Students in alternative settings discover the power of reading

Brittany Sullivan  //  Mar 30, 2017

Students in alternative settings discover the power of reading

It’s no secret that providing access to high-quality, age appropriate books can have a big impact on students’ literacy skills and future academic success. But, what does this mean for students in secure settings, where access to books is often limited?

The Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS), a nonprofit that helps schools in juvenile justice settings implement student-focused practices designed to improve the lives of the students they serve, created a month-long readathon called “Unbound.” Now in its third year, this nationwide readathon provides a framework and incentives to increase students’ engagement with books, ultimately helping them discover the power and joy of reading.

Unbound 2017 took place last month and more than 2,900 students from 70 juvenile justice sites competed for the top prize—a bundle of free books from Scholastic! In a great story from The Seattle Times, Gary Flood, principal at Naselle Youth Camp, explains the reaction from students who participated in Unbound. “I saw students with two or three books in hand—they just read and read and read,” he explained. “It’s near panic sometimes when the library is closed.”

Check out some of this year's Unbound book reviews from participating students, below. Congratulations to all the teachers and students across the country who participated this year, including the 1st place winners from CAPE Detention in Arizona! For more book reviews, visit the CEEAS website.


Harry Potter

Book by J.K. Rowling; Review by Kaylee C.

…I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love seeing through all of the books how much Rowling grows with the characters and I like to see that it is always a new adventure with these books. It will never be the same thing twice. My favorite character is Hermione because she is loyal and she always looks out for Harry and Ron to guide them out of trouble and help keep them caught up with school. I don’t think that I relate to any specific character in the book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that asked me for a good book because this kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time and I couldn’t put it down.


We've Got A Job

Book by Cinthia Levinson; Review by De'angelo H.

The story is about African Americans in Birmingham, Alabama that [wanted] to protest segregation, but their lives and jobs were at stake, so they hesitated to protest.  I liked this book because it shows how African Americans fought for their rights.  My favorite character in the book is James Bevel.  I related to some of the characters in this book because I fight every day in this world for peace and justice for all young African Americans.  I would recommend this book because it is powerful and inspiring. If I could change the title, I would call it "The Life We Have to Fight."


Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Book by Jeff Kinney; Review by Zach H.

This book is about a weird kid named Greg and his friends and brother (Greg, Rodrick, Rowley). It takes place in summer. I enjoyed reading this book because it's funny. Greg is my favorite character because I can relate to him.


The Hunger Games

Book by Suzanne Collins​; Review by Damian D.

…Reading The Hunger Games was by far my best reading experience.  The twists and turns of this book caused me to think ahead and hope for a certain change in the storyline and I was again brought to feel as if I were experiencing the many moments myself.  My favorite part of this book is the turn of the story when Katniss is brave enough to test the rules of the Capitol in a way that brings me to feel proud of her rebellion. 


The Hitchhiker

Book by R.L. Stine; Review by Bennett L.

This book is about two girls that pick up a hitchhiker that ran away. I liked the twists in the book and I related to James because he ran away. My favorite quote from the book was, "Sometimes you fall in a bad crowd and get trampled.”

Image via CEEAS