Prison library and education staff and other charities have helped us to launch a new list of book recommendations for people learning English as a second or additional Language (ESOL/EAL) in prison. The list has been developed during the first year of a three-year project funded by The Bell Foundation.
This project aims to tailor our Reading Ahead programme for this audience, encouraging them to read for pleasure as a way of developing their skills and thus overcoming the language barrier to rehabilitation. We have piloted this approach with six prisons - Moorland, Maidstone, Downview, Wandsworth, Brinsford and Bristol - and shared our findings at a special event at the Free Word Centre on 13 October. We have also developed a downloadable resource containing ideas for using Reading Ahead with this audience.
Experienced ESOL specialists Jenny Roden and Celine Castelino, representing the National Association for Teaching English and Community Languages to Adults (NATECLA), compiled the booklist in consultation with prisoners, tutors and librarians. It contains guidance on level (Entry 1 to Level 1), cost, supplier, a short summary of the theme or story, support materials available and notes on other aspects such as suitability for particular groups. It is hoped that all prisons holding prisoners with ESOL will use this a starting point for selecting book stock for their libraries. There is accompanying advice for using reading for pleasure with this audience.
We have also developed an 'ESOL-friendly' leaflet inviting prisoners to use their library and make use of all the resources on offer. We will be trialling this and extending our pilot of Reading Ahead for ESOL to further prisons during the second year of the project.
Our special event ended with a talk by Vaseem Khan, author of the Baby Ganesh detective agency series and a new Quick Read for publication in 2018. Vaseem explained how his writing career began and shared his passion for promoting the power of literacy.
Reading Ahead is run by public libraries, colleges, adult community learning and workplaces as well as prisons. Print materials and incentives for 2017/18 can be purchased from our online shop
See our resources page for more ideas and guidance