If you’re considering donating books to prisons, hopefully you’ll find this comprehensive list of organizations valuable!

A question I often get asked is can you donate books to prisons directly? Sure, but you might have a hard time finding exactly which institutions do, or don’t, take books.

There are dedicated organizations you can use to ensure the books you donate are suitable and inmates can get the most out of them. So I’ve listed, first, organizations that donate books to prisons in America that allow you to mail in your books

Then, I’ve broken down the programs by state, as a lot of programs accept book drop offs only. This list is constantly being updated!

Page contents (click to navigate:)


Cover image credit: Open Books Prison Book Project (Pensacola)


Mail-In Programs

Prison Books

Mailing Address: 1306 Hancock Street, Suite 100, Quincy, MA 02169
Type of Books Accepted: See their top requests on their website
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcovers, encyclopedias, magazines, spiral bound books, books about conspiracy theories/disseminating information
Website: Prison Book Program

Based out of Quincy, Massachusetts, Prison Books mail over 50,000 books out per year. They’ll also accept self-published books as well as advanced reading/review copies. Prison Books also feature as a drop off location in our guide on where to donate books in Boston.

Women’s Prison Book Project

Mailing Address: 3751 17th Ave S, Minneapolis MN 55407
Type of Books Accepted: Mysteries, romance, fantasy, horror, true crime, craft/art books, DIY books, dictionaries, health topics, alcohol/drug recovery books, LGBTQ topics
Website: WPBP

Incarcerated women often don’t have great access to books, particularly books that can help them learn and grow. WPBP provides women in prisons all around the country with free reading materials.

prison book donation thank you letter
An example of the correspondence the WPBP gets

Sentences: Book Donations to Prison Libraries and J. D. Centers

Mailing Address: They will post prisons near you on their Facebook page
Type of Books Accepted: Varies by location
Facebook Page: Sentences

The aptly named Sentences Facebook page is a fantastic resource if you wish to send books directly to prisons. They keep their page updated with participating prisons; I’d suggest searching their posts by typing in your area in the page’s search bar as they’ve got a long list going back almost ten years!

books packed to be sent to prisons
Credit: Sentences

Florida Prison Education Project

Mailing Address: UCF Florida Prison Education Project, Attn: Michael Kostis, 12400 Aquarius Agora Dr., Orlando, FL 32816
Website: Florida Prison Education Project

I have spoken with Jason, the coordinator at the Florida Prison Education Project, and he and his colleagues are doing great work to get these books in the hands of inmates in Orlando and all over Florida. 

Chicago Books for Women in Prison

Mailing Address: 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
Type of Books Not Accepted: Children’s books, most mass-market fiction books, non-fiction books not on their below list
Website: Chicago BWP

Check their website as they have a pretty lengthy list of genres/types of books they require. They also have a drop off location at the above address, and feature on our guide on where to donate books in Chicago.

The Chicago Books for Women Prisoners team exhibiting some moving thank you letters
The Chicago Books for Women Prisoners team exhibiting some moving thank you letters

Appalachian Prison Book Project

Mailing Address: Appalachian Prison Book Project, PO Box 601, Morgantown, WV 26507
Type of Books Accepted: Merriam-Webster Dictionary, paperback dictionaries/thesauri, how-to and self-help books, Wicca literature, classics, mass-market fiction, world almanacs, law or medical dictionaries, Western books
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover books, romance, magazines, textbooks
Website: Appalachian Prison Book Project

This project requests no more than 2 boxes of books be sent at any one time.

Books Behind Bars NJ

Mailing Address: Books Behind Bars, PO BOX 2611, Wildwood, NJ 08260
Type of Books Accepted: Art books, coloring books, true crime, paranormal, finance/investing books, small business books, yoga/exercise books, black history, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, National Geographics
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover books, old magazines, religious texts, computer books
Website: Books Behind Bars NJ


Next, is a breakdown of all the prison book programs by specific states. 

Please note, this is a currently relevant and up to date list, but is always changing. If there is an organization or state I need to add, please do let me know.

List of Prison Book Donation Programs by State

California

Prisoners Literature Project (Berkeley)

Donation Type: Drop off, Book drive
Location: 2022 Blake St, Berkeley, CA 94704
Hours: Check their site for donation guidelines 
Type of Books Accepted: Paperback books, dictionaries, manuals, self-help books, exercise/yoga books
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover books
Website: Prisoners Literature Project

Prisoners Literature Project (San Francisco)

Donation Type: Drop off
Location: Bound Together Books, 1369 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Hours: 11:30-7:30pm daily, but call ahead on (415) 431-8355 to check if someone will be there.
Website: Prisoners Literature Project


District of Columbia

DC Books to Prisoners

Donation Type: Drop off
Location: Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20036
Hours: Wednesdays 6-8pm in the room in the basement
Type of Books Accepted: Paperback books in Spanish and English, but check their site for current needs
Website: DC Books to Prisoners


Florida

Gainesville Books to Prisoners

Donation Type: Drop off
Location: 433 S. Main St., Gainesville, FL 32601
Hours: First and third Tuesday of the month, 6-7.30pm @ Civic Media Center
Type of Books Accepted: Check their Instagram for “weekly wish lists”
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover books, violent books
Instagram: GNVBooks2Prisoners

Open Books Prison Book Project (Pensacola)

Donation Type: Drop off
Location: 1040 N. Guillemard St., Pensacola, FL 32501
Hours: 12-5pm daily
Type of Books Accepted: Hardback and paperback books, particularly books to do with small business, urban fiction, job training, exercise, dictionaries, thesauri, almanacs, horror, Westerns, thriller/suspense, mass market fiction
Website: See all books they need here


Illinois

Chicago Books for Women in Prison

Donation Type: Mail in, drop off
Location: 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
Type of Books Not Accepted: Children’s books, most mass-market fiction books, non-fiction books not on their below list
Website: Chicago BWP

Midwest Books to Prisoners

Donation Type: Drop off
Location: First Trinity Lutheran Church, 643 W. 31st Street, Chicago IL 60608 (community center door drop off)
Type of Books Not Accepted: Religious books, spiral-bound books
Website: Midwest Books to Prisoners


Indiana

Midwest Pages to Prisoners (Bloomington)

Donation Type: Drop off (appointment)
Location:
PO Box 1324, Bloomington, IN 47402
Hours: Schedule a time to drop books off
Type of Books Accepted: General fiction and nonfiction paperback books, life skill books, high school textbooks for math and science, Spanish language books, criminal case/self-help legal books, technical and vocational books
Type of Books Not Accepted: Romance novels, female fiction, books about culture over 15 years old, Reader’s Digest, encyclopedias, travel books, children’s books, true crime, business books
Website: Pages to Prisoners


Michigan

First Unitarian Universalist Prison Books Program (Ann Arbor)

Donation Type: Contact the organization directly
Type of Books Accepted: Fiction, non-fiction, dictionaries, self-help, ACT/SAT prep books, Spanish books
Type of Books Not Accepted: Informational books older than 5 years, i.e. travel books, textbooks
Website: Prison Books Program


New Jersey

Books Behind Bars NJ

Donation Type: Scheduled drop off, Mail-in
Location:
Books Behind Bars, PO BOX 2611, Wildwood, NJ 08260
Hours: Contact them to arrange a drop off time
Type of Books Accepted: Art books, coloring books, true crime, paranormal, finance/investing books, small business books, yoga/exercise books, black history, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, National Geographics
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover books, old magazines, religious texts, computer books
Website: Books Behind Bars NJ


North Carolina

NC Women’s Prison Book Project (Durham)

Donation Type: Pick up from you, as long as you reside in our around the Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill area
Type of Books Accepted: New or like-new paperback books, mass market fiction, true crime, blank coloring books, daily devotionals, astrology, urban fiction
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover books
Website: NCWPB


Pennsylvania

Books Through Bars (Philly)

Donation Type: Drop Off (but get in touch with them first)
Location: 4722 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143
Opening Hours: Saturday 11AM-2PM; Tuesday 7.30PM-9.30PM
Type of Books Accepted: Virtually all genres as long as they’re in paperback and in good condition
Type of Books Not Accepted: Computer/law/investing books over 5 years old
Website: Books Through Bars

Pittsburgh Prison Book Project

Donation Type: Scheduled drop off
Location: 134 E. Elizabeth Street Pittsburgh, PA 15207
Opening Hours: Contact them to schedule a drop off: pghprisonbookproject@gmail.com
Type of Books Not Accepted: Religious texts, spiral bound books, encyclopedias
Donation Receipt: Yes
Website: Pittsburgh Prison Book Project


Rhode Island

Providence Books Through Bars

Donation Type: Scheduled drop off
Location: 65 University Avenue, Providence, RI 02906
Type of Books Accepted: Paperbacks only, view their website link below for a full list of desired books/topics
Website: Providence Books Through Bars
Instagram


Tennessee

Tennessee Prison Books Project

Donation Type: Scheduled drop off
Location: 901 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37202
Hours: To schedule a drop off, please email: TNPrisonBooksProject@protonmail.com
Type of Books Accepted: True crime, health/fitness, business books, mass market fiction and non-fiction, self-help books (addiction, legal, vocational), religious texts, African American literature, dictionaries, thesauruses, Spanish language books, children’s books, young adult books
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover books
Website: TN Prison Books Project


Washington

Books to Prisoners (Seattle)

Donation Type: Drop off
Location: Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St # B, Seattle, WA 98101
Type of Books Accepted: National Geographics, history books, self-help books, magic/occult, business books, blank journals, graphic novels and comic books, mass-market fiction i.e. romance, short stories, sports books, tabletop playing guides, cookbooks, true crime, thesauri, dictionaries
Type of Books Not Accepted: Politics/current affairs books that are outdated, nothing pertaining to alcohol or drugs, violence, or hypnosis
Website: Books to Prisoners

This organization does accept hardcover non-fiction books.

Olympia Books to Prisoners (Olympia)

Donation Type: Drop off in book bin
Primary Book Bin Location: Last Word Books, 501 4th Ave., East Olympia, WA 98501
Other Book Bin Location: The Center for Community Based Learning and Action on The Evergreen State College Olympia campus
Type of Books Accepted: National Geographics, occult books, self-help books, magic/occult, business books, graphic novels and comic books, mass-market fiction, dictionaries, urban fiction, Westerns, finance books, homestead/off-grid magazines, auto magazines, how-to books, LGBTQ books
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover or spiral-bound books
Website: Olympia Books to Prisoners


Wisconsin

Wisconsin Books to Prisoners (Milwaukee)

Donation Type: Drop off in book bin
Location: Bay View neighborhood – contact for the exact location
Type of Books Accepted: Thesauruses, almanacs, educational books, all types of fiction, Spanish books
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover books, textbooks pre-2018
Website: Wisconsin Books to Prisoners

LGBTQ Books to Prisoners (Madison)

Donation Type: Scheduled drop off
Location: Contact for the exact location
Type of Books Accepted: Good quality hardcover books, LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction is heavily requested, see full list at website link below
Type of Books Not Accepted: Spiral-bound books, magazines, calendars, activity books, single-issue comics, used quality hardcover books
Website: LGBTQ Books to Prisoners


West Virginia

Appalachian Prison Book Project

Donation Type: Drop off
Location: Aull Center, 351 Spruce St, Morgantown, WV 26505
Type of Books Accepted: Merriam-Webster Dictionary, paperback dictionaries/thesauri, how-to and self-help books, Wicca literature, classics, mass-market fiction, world almanacs, law or medical dictionaries, Western books
Type of Books Not Accepted: Hardcover books, romance, magazines, textbooks
Website: Appalachian Prison Book Project

Drop your books off at the Aull Center on weekdays or 9-1 on Saturday. The Morgantown Public Library requests that you don’t leave books on the porch.

A community wrapping party. Credit: Appalachian Prison Book Project

General Prison Book Donation Guidelines

  • Hardcover books won’t be accepted by most prisons; exceptions will be noted above
  • The same goes for spiral-bound books
  • Older textbooks/medical/information books won’t be accepted (think older than 5 years old)
  • No radical literature
  • No books that are graphically violent or have violent images
  • No books on martial arts or similar aggressive exercise methods
  • It’s easiest to go through a dedicated organization than send books in bulk to prisons, as they will already have relationships with prisons and understand the stringent requirements for each prison
  • When mailing books to the organizations, you can get a special rate for mailing books by using USPS media mail