Books Through Bars is an American organization which works to provide quality reading material to prisoners in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. It was founded in 1990 by New Society Publishers of Philadelphia. There are approximately 30 similar, but unaffiliated, organizations throughout the U.S.
Because prisoners in American prisons are not able to receive books from sources other than recognized publishers, bookstores, or other legitimate distributors, those without the financial resources to buy books have very limited access to them. Prison libraries are not being funded, in part because reading material is widely seen as irrelevant to a "mostly uneducated and indeed largely illiterate prison population". New Society Publishers began its program after it began receiving letters from indigent prisoners, and provides donated books to individual prisoners, prison libraries, and halfway houses. The organization distributes several hundred packages per month. It also sponsors regular public events relating to issues such as human rights, the war on drugs, and prison reform.
Books Through Bars is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, formally organized as a collective and run by nine core members plus about twenty volunteers, and is supported by grant money from a number of charitable organizations.