The Book ‘Em program will partner with this weekend’s Pittsburgh Wizard World convention downtown to collect hundreds of books to donate to Pennsylvania prisons.
The initiative, run by the Thomas Merton Center, wants to fill some of the genre gaps within donated books. Co-chair of the program Jodi Lincoln says that Wizard World attendees might be able to help because of overlapping interests.
“There’s a lot of books that people don’t have just lying around that people who are incarcerated really request and need. Some of the big ones are always going to be our graphic novels, and our mangas, and comic books,” she said in an interview, adding that books offering trade industry training are also some of the most popular.
Lincoln says the texts they provide can help with the rehabilitation process, something she learned in the many letters the organization receives from prisoners.
“There’s a lot of people who are using their time extremely effectively so that when they’re released, they can have the most successful opportunity of reentry possible,” says Lincoln.
For those in prison with no family or financial support, reading materials are limited to what can be purchased through Department of Corrections’ channels. Not everyone has that option, Lincoln says, so donated packages of books can have a big impact on a prisoner.
Book ‘Em distributes around 2,000 books a year to state and federal prisons across Pennsylvania. Donations can made all weekend downtown, in a marked box near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center’s registration desk.