For Educators

This page includes:


Books Read in Book Club

Every week, 16 and 17 year olds charged and incarcerated as adults at the DC Jail gather together to discuss a work of contemporary literature. Books are chosen by the members themselves via a “book ballot,” a democratic process that motivates them to take an active role as readers and demonstrates that the Book Club belongs to them. Below is a list of titles chosen, read and discussed by Book Club since 2002. We welcome your suggestions for new titles! Please email us at with any recommendations.

Autobiography and Memoir
Buck: A Memoir by MK Asante
A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca
Back in the Day: My Life and Times with Tupac Shakur by Darrin Keith Bastfield
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
A Question of Freedom by R. Dwayne Betts
Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown
A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
The Naked Truth by Marvelyn Brown
Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm by Percy Carey
The Pact by Dr. Sampson Davis, et. al.
Detoured: My Journey from Darkness to Light by Jesse De La Cruz and Joe Loya
Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler by Azie Faison
Finding Fish by Antwone Fisher
Magic City: Trials of a Native Son by Trick Daddy
War Child by Emmanuel Jal
Street Life by Jihad
Hoop Dreams by Ben Joravsky
Panther Baby by Jamal Joseph
Slugg: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Tony Lewis, Jr.
Maybe You Never Cry Again by Bernie Mac
The Color of Water by James McBride
Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan McCall
Tupac Shakur: The Life and Times of an American Icon by Tayannah Lee McQuillar and Fred L. Johnson
Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers
Grace After Midnight by Felicia “Snoop” Pearson
Unlikely Brothers by John Prendergast and Michael Mattocks
Rock This! by Chris Rock
Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez
My Bloody Life by Reymundo Sanchez
Once a King, Always a King by Reymundo Sanchez
Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor
Monster: Autobiography of An L.A. Gang Member by Sanyika Shakur
Inside the Crips by Colton Simpson
Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas
Convicted in the Womb by Carl Upchurch
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
The Cook Up by D. Watkins
Life in Prison by Tookie Williams
Reputations Fade Away by DaWayne Williams

Graphic Novels
March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
Monster: A Graphic Novel by Walter Dean Myers and Guy A. Sims
Yummy by G. Neri

Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Glory Road by Don Haskins
Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos
A Life for A Life by Ernest Hill
Never Go Home Again by Shannon Holmes
Pay It Forward by Catherine Hyde
Dark by Kenji Jasper
Dakota Grand by Kenji Jasper
Snow by Kenji Jasper
Seeking Salamanca Mitchell by Kenji Jasper
Standing at the Scratch Line by Guy Johnson
The World Is Mine by Lyah B. LeFlore and D.L. Warfield
Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida by Victor Martinez
A Hip Hop Story by Heru Ptah
Push by Sapphire
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
Midnight by Sister Souljah
A Deeper Love Inside by Sister Souljah

Mystery, Crime and Thriller
American Gangster by Max Allan Collins
The Green Mile by Stephen King
Bang by Norah McClintock
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley
Fearless Jones by Walter Mosley
Six Easy Pieces by Walter Mosley
Kiss the Girls by James Patterson
Drama City by George Pelecanos
DC Noir edited by George Pelecanos
The Turnaround by George Pelecanos
The Way Home by George Pelecanos

Our Lives Matter by The Ballou Story Project
Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Jack Canfield
Voices of Witness: Ten Years of Amplifying Unheard Voices, with introduction by Dave Eggers
Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers
The Conversation by Hill Harper
Letters to a Young Brother by Hill Harper
If You Can See It, You Can Be It: 12 Street-Smart Recipes for Success by Chef Jeff Henderson
Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx
Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge by Etan Thomas, et al
City of One by Writerscorps

Reason to Breathe by Halim Flowers
Shahid Reads His Own Palm by R. Dwayne Betts
Rose that Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur
More Than an Athlete by Etan Thomas
Paint Me Like I Am by WritersCorps
Tell the World by WritersCorps

Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon
Played by Dana Davidson
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Denim Diaries by Darrien Lee
Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Science Fiction/Fantasy
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by JK Rowling
Taste of the Night by R.L. Stine

Young Adult
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Concrete Candy by Apollo
Wolf Rider by Avi
Trinitoga by The Ballou Story Project
Pull by B.A. Binns
Durango Street by Frank Bonham
Tyrell by Coe Booth
Bronxwood by Coe Booth
The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier
16 on the Block by Babygirl Daniels
16 ½ on the Block by Babygirl Daniels
A Winter Kill by Vicky Delany
Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña
We Were Here by Matt de la Peña
So, So Hood by L. Divine
Tears of the Tiger by Sharon Draper
Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper
Battle of Jericho by Sharon Draper
Begging for Change by Sharon Flake
Money Hungry by Sharon Flake
Bang! by Sharon Flake
Who Am I Without Him? by Sharon Flake
Dime by E.R. Frank
Nowhere to Run by Claire Griffin
Ten Mile River by Paul Griffin
Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
Speak by Laurie Halse
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
At the Crossroads by Travis Hunter
On the Come Up by Travis Hunter
Two the Hard Way by Travis Hunter
They Broke the Law: You Be the Judge by Thomas A. Jacobs, JD
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
Muchacho by LouAnne Johnson
No Way Out by Peggy Kern
The Barrio Kings by William Kowalski
Brothers in Arms by Paul Langan and Ben Alirez
The Fallen by Paul Langan
Promises to Keep by Paul Langan
The Contender by Robert Lipsyte
The Brave by Robert Lipsyte
Raiders Night by Robert Lipsyte
The Rock & The River by Kekla Magoon
Sold by Patricia McCormick
Way Past Cool by Jess Mowry
Slam by Walter Dean Myers
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
Knockout Games by G. Neri
Boy21 by Matthew Quick
When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
Final Crossing by Sean Rodman
Holes by Louis Sachar
Until We Meet Again by Anne Schraff (Bluford Series)
Shadows of Guilt by Anne Schraff
Retaliation by Yasmin Shiraz
If I Was Your Girl by Ni-Ni Simone
Shortie Like Mine by Ni-Ni Simone
Teenage Love Affair by Ni-Ni Simone
Upgrade U by Ni-Ni Simone
The Afterlife by Gary Soto
Boot Camp by Todd Strasser
The Wave by Todd Strasser
When We Wuz Famous by Greg Takoudes
Riley Park by Diane Tullson
Snitch by Allison Van Diepen
Takedown by Allison Van Diepen
Black and White by Paul Volponi
Rooftop by Paul Volponi
Rikers High by Paul Volponi
The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees
Big City Cool: Short Stories About Urban Youth edited by M. Jerry Weiss and Helen S. Weiss
Ballad of a Ghetto Poet by A.J. White
Boy Kills Man by Matt Whyman


 Books Read in Federal Prison Book Club

When Free Minds members are transferred to federal prison, we continue to send them a book a month. Many titles are chosen from the list above, but as members mature in their reading, Free Minds introduces them to a greater variety of genres. Some additional titles sent to members in federal prison include:

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Flight by Sherman Alexie
A Place to Stand
by Jimmy Santiago Baca
*Bronxwood by Coe Booth
Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
The Naked Truth by Marvelyn Brown
Kindred by Octavia Butler
The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
*The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Lisa Frazier Page
The Bond by Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins
*Detoured: My Journey from Darkness to Light by Jesse De La Cruz and Joe Loya
What is the What by Dave Eggers
The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner and Quincy Troupe
How to Get Out of Your Own Way by Tyrese Gibson
*The Conversation by Hill Harper
*The Wealth Cure by Hill Harper
*Letters to an Incarcerated Brother by Hill Harper
Cooked by Jeff Henderson
Incognegro by Mat Johnson
Panther Baby by Jamal Joseph
*Tears for Water by Alicia Keys
*Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Long Division by Kiese Laymon
*March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
*March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
*Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance by Joseph M. Marshall III
Finding Freedom: Writings from Death Row by Jarvis Jay Masters
That Bird Has My Wings
 by Jarvis Jay Masters
The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
The Long Fall by Walter Mosley
*Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley
Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers
It Ain’t All for Nothin’ by Walter Dean Myers
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
*Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Navarro
*Ruined by Lynn Nottage
*Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates
The Cut by George Pelecanos
Shake Loose My Skin by Sonia Sanchez
*Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor
Retaliation by Yasmin Shiraz
Do You by Russell Simmons
Blue Rage, Black Redemption by Tavis Smiley and Stanley Tookie Williams
*Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi
Native Son by Richard Wright
*The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
*Books Across the Miles (BAM!) virtual book club selections for members in federal prisons across the country

[My poems] aren't just my work, that's our work. Do you know I could hardly read when I met you? Them poems are the product of Free Minds. I owe a lot to you.
– Antwan, Age 21