Monica Cosby’s Essay on Reading in Prison

Monica Cosby has graciously given permission to share her powerful essay on the necessity of having access to books and other reading materials while incarcerated, which she describes as “a life-saving and life-giving gift.” Monica’s essay was published in the November 2017 issue of Bound Struggles, a publication through Chicago Books to Women in Prison.

Bound Struggles publishes content created by women who are incarcerated in the United States. Issues contain art, essays, poetry, and other media. Bound Struggles is available for purchase through the Chicago Books to Women in Prison online store.

2018 In the Margins Booklist Announced

The 2018 In the Margins booklist – a list of books of interest to and partially selected by “youth who are marginalized, on the streets, incarcerated, drug-addicted, or struggle with combinations of these issues” – has been announced!  The top winners for this year are


Beacon House Writers. The Day Tajon Got Shot. 230p. Shout Mouse Press. March 2017. PB $14.80. 9780996927451.


Young black male, white police officer, tough neighborhood, fear, preconceived ideas and alternating perspectives–all the ingredients for another shooting in America.  This time, though, the own-voice authors are ten female students who committed two years of their lives to work on the story’s production, in order to make it clear that Black Lives Matter.



Porinchak, Eve. One Cut. 256 p. Simon Pulse. May 2017. 241p. HC $19.99. PB. $10.99. 9781481481311.

One Cut

A good kid dies.  Or was he murdered?  Or is there more to the story than meets the eye?  This book pulls from the true story that sent a white suburb into chaos, opening up the possibility that the good kids aren’t all that they seem.



Social Justice / Advocacy

Ross, Richard. Juvie Talk. 271p. MacArthur Foundation. 2017. PB $24.95.  9780985510626.

Juvie Talk

Life is a play and we are all the characters. The children who have had their lives affected by the juvenile justice system are also “playing parts that have been written for them by society” (R. Ross). Juvie Talk takes the voices of those youth and allows them to tell their stories. But this book goes further–allowing students and teachers to create plays on the book’s website. Unique, creative and inspirational.


See the press release for the awards list on School Library Journal.

See the full list, including nominees, at the In the Margins site.

American Prison Writing Archive

The American Prison Writing Archive contains materials created and submitted by prisoners and prison staff.  Materials are then transcribed (and users of the site can volunteer to subscribe them) to create a searchable database of submissions. Materials can be sorted by author, state, or name of prison, and appear to skew heavily toward submissions by people who are incarcerated.

The archive aims to

replace speculation on and misrepresentation of prisons, imprisoned people, and prison workers with first-person witness by those who live and work on the receiving end of American criminal justice. No single essay can tell us all that we need to know. But a mass-scale, national archive of writing by incarcerated people and prison staff can begin to strip away widely circulated myths and replace them with some sense of the true human costs of the current legal order. By soliciting, preserving, digitizing and disseminating the work of prison workers and imprisoned people, we hope to ground national debate on mass incarceration in the lived experience of those who know jails and prisons best.


The archive can be accessed at

LGBTQ+ (mostly POC) YA library

I’m proud to announce the current catalog for QTY Treehouse, a drop-in and programming space that provides services to LGBTQ+ youth in Oakland, CA.  Through a generous grant from the American Library Association, I have worked with QTY Treehouse staff to build a meaningful and diversely representative library for youth.  Check it out by going to

QTY Treehouse Library!

This spreadsheet is designed to be searchable by race / ethnicity, sexual orientation, and whether or not materials contain trans or gender non-conforming representations or content.

I’m excited for youth to have increased access to library materials that fit their experiences and understandings of the world, and endlessly grateful to QTY Treehouse for our on-going partnership.


Signs, a long running, respected, and critical feminist journal, has released a special virtual issue on #TheFeministResistance.  Full of commentary on our current political and social situation, in which oppressions are shifting and (for some) becoming more apparent, this special issue is a needed resource.

These resources will remain open-access until August 21, 2017.  View them at