Classics Behind Bars is a program that brings classic literature to incarcerated individuals. Each three-week program focuses on one classic work of literature, which has been approved by the participating prison. Incarcerated individuals selected to participate in the program receive a copy of the book, provided by Restless Books free of charge. They meet weekly in a seminar format for two-hour sessions with an experienced instructor.

These discussions encourage participants to connect their own life stories to classic works of literature, in order to illuminate how the past remains relevant today. Topics explored include citizenship, morality, family, identity, and self-awareness. The next session, in March 2019, will center on Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

The three-part program of Classics Behind Bars at the Hampshire County Jail, in Northampton, Massachusetts, is the subject of a special program of New England Public Radio’s podcast “In Contrast,” airing in January, 2019.


Program Mission

Restless Books, a 501(c)3 nonprofit publisher specializing in international literature, began publishing classic literature in 2016, recognizing that these enduring stories can continue to serve current and future generations. Donate to help incarcerated individuals practice their literacy skills, discover time-honored stories, and learn from our shared cultural heritage.

For more information, email Arielle Kane.