Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Words No Bars Can Hold: Literacy Learning in Prison” as Want to Read:
Words No Bars Can Hold: Literacy Learning in Prison
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Words No Bars Can Hold: Literacy Learning in Prison

by
really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Words No Bars Can Hold provides a rare glimpse into literacy learning under the most dehumanizing conditions. Deborah Appleman chronicles her work teaching college- level classes at a high- security prison for men, most of whom are serving life sentences. Through narrative, poetry, memoir, and fiction, the students in Appleman’s classes attempt to write themselves back int ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by W. W. Norton Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Words No Bars Can Hold, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Words No Bars Can Hold

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  55 ratings  ·  15 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Words No Bars Can Hold: Literacy Learning in Prison
Tanya
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Appleman is doing the good work and trying to let it teach her as much as she teaches in it. This book makes an effort to cross the academic/public space, to make clear the urgency of prison and education reform, and to show herself as both agentive and receptive.
Owen Cantrell
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book does a good job balancing the words of incarcerated students and analysis of the issues of literacy learning in prisons. I’m using two chapters of it for my Theories of Justice and Incarceration class.
Karin Foster
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've seen Deborah Appleman present at conferences before and love her work. This book gives me greater appreciation of her, as well as other educators, who work within the prison system. Appleman is careful not to portray literacy as a panacea to violent crime, but it does play an important role. The last chapter discusses the role schools can play in creating systems of support for disengaged youth, but this requires a lot more support for schools than they presently get - counselors, etc. Inte ...more
Deborah
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting book written by a friend of mine about her experiences teaching creative writing to "lifers" in the Minnesota prison system. Lots of examples of prisoners work and also a lot of arguments for teaching liberal arts to prison inmates. Tricky business. She makes good arguments for teaching in prisons. I think anyone working or volunteering in the prison system should read it. ...more
Jim Marshall
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What place should literacy claim in the lives of prisoners who have little if any chance of release? How can the teaching of critical reading and creative writing enhance the lived lives of those prisoners? What outcomes can be expected? How will we know that we are making a meaningful difference in their lives? Ten years ago Deborah Appleman went to a nearby high security prison for men in order to find answers to these questions, or rather, to fine tune the questions themselves. A Distinguishe ...more
Krista Rolfzen Soukup
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Your next book club pick. This book should be read, discussed and kept on your shelf. Appleman, a highly accomplished college professor delivers a book that pulls us right into the world of our incarceration system and invokes us to reconsider how we view the criminals and their level of humanity. With consideration to the victims of horrific crimes, we are invited to ponder the general benefit to our society in bringing higher level creative writing instruction to those behind bars for life. It ...more
Lin Salisbury
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
As Deborah Appleman enters the maximum security prison where she teaches prisoners, she hands off her license, jewelry, shoes -- all the talismans of her identity – and walks through the metal detector; one that she says puts airport security scanners to shame. Her materials are in a clear plastic book bag and her right hand is stamped with invisible ink, which will be scanned with a fluorescent light on her way out to make sure that a cross-dressing imposter is not trying to escape. This is the ...more
Jeff Wilhelm
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow, wow, wow! I highly recommend this book to all. I've recently read THE NEW JIM CROW, AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, and THE MEN WE REAP. This book finally gave me hope. Deb Appleman is a possibilist – and her work is an exploration of possibility in the most oppressive of circumstances: she works to build literacy in a maximum security prison. She explores the transformative possibilities of literacy – and its limits, of how we can teach for possibility and transformation . . .

Favorite quote: "A per
...more
sami
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this read fantastic. I loved how Deborah Appleman wove theory, story, and humanity (both her own and her students') together. I particularly loved reading the stories of her students and the moments of total humanness within her stories of teaching them.

“Perhaps, in the end, there can be no more worthwhile endeavor than helping to create the conditions under which an individual can reclaim his sense of self and therefore his humanity."
...more
Jean
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that can startle and provoke thoughts and beliefs toward the incarcerated. Most of us believe that those convicted of crimes are justly being punished for their deeds. We don’t, for the most part, think of them beyond that. We don’t credit them with individual lives with families and human feelings like the rest of us.
Deborah Appleman presents us with a window into the personal world and experiences of her incarcerated students. Her students share their personal stories through t
...more
Mathew Murphy
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book offers a long-awaited commentary on education in prisons. I particularly appreciated the opportunity Appleman offered to her incarcerated students to express themselves. As one prisoner wrote, "I wish I had done this learning sooner. I've never had the opportunity to be introspective before, and that has been life-changing." I thank Ms. Appleman for bringing this important issue to our attention and giving her incarcerated students a voice. I hope many people read this book! ...more
Kathleen A.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Debra Appleman presents a well-documented, balanced and comprehensive picture of educating one of society’s most challenging populations. Her insights have application across learning environments as well. She skillfully brings her text to life by her inclusion of student work and life stories. A captivating, provocative and enlightening read!
Shari
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Not what I expected at all. I thought it would be more about the 70% of prisoners who struggle to read.
Kayla
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Applebam intersperses research as well as personal experience to point to how a liberal arts education for those who are incarcerated is something that should be available to all of those who wish to partake.
Deborah Swenson
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I must admit that I felt a bit nervous when asked to review this compelling work of non-fiction by Deborah Appleman, Ph.D. Other than the technical healthcare texts in college, my reading had been limited to mostly [by choice] fiction. Yet, since becoming a writer, my choices have greatly expanded. Dr. Appleman opened my eyes to what lay beyond the written word of fictionalized characters and places. In this compelling work, the author brings to life the stark reality of what lies behind cement ...more
Annelisa Burns
rated it really liked it
Jul 08, 2022
Rachel Hofmann
rated it did not like it
Oct 11, 2022
Deedee Cummings
rated it it was amazing
Dec 27, 2019
Amanda Strukus
rated it it was amazing
Feb 10, 2021
Angel c
rated it liked it
Nov 23, 2021
Cami
rated it it was amazing
Jul 17, 2021
Aileen
rated it it was ok
Jun 07, 2022
Amy
rated it it was amazing
Sep 29, 2021
Cynthia Lewis
rated it it was amazing
Sep 30, 2019
Alison
rated it liked it
May 01, 2022
Kenneth Bernoska
rated it really liked it
Jan 30, 2020
Patty Harvey
rated it it was ok
Sep 10, 2021
Lindsay
rated it really liked it
Oct 16, 2021
Emily
rated it really liked it
Nov 10, 2020
Sherry Edens
rated it liked it
Aug 16, 2020
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Monsters Among Us
  • Whisper Down the Lane
  • The Rose Code
  • The Project
  • I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After
  • The Second Mountain
  • Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
  • Churchill
  • Via Negativa
  • The Getaway
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words
  • The Sentence
  • The Committed
  • Firekeeper's Daughter
  • Pet
  • Line of Glory
  • The Lost Apothecary
  • How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
See similar books…
9 followers
Deborah Appleman is the Hollis L. Caswell professor of educational studies and director of the Summer Writing Program at Carleton College. Professor Appleman’s recent research has focused on teaching college-level language and literature courses at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater for inmates who are interested in pursuing post-secondary education.

Deborah recently edited an anthology
...more

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
25 likes · 6 comments