7th August 2004
The BAT Club (Book and Tape Club), launched in June 2004 at Maghaberry Prison by the Northern Ireland Prison Service in partnership with the South Eastern Education and Library Board and Bright Books, aims to promote literacy among imprisoned fathers serving a life sentence and their children and allows fathers in custody to play a role in the development of their children. The father selects a book (assistance is provided for those who have difficulty reading or want guidance in selecting a suitable book) and reads it aloud to produce a tape recording. The book and tape are then lent to the child, who is encouraged to read the book while listening to the recording of the father’s voice. In turn, the children are encouraged to record their comments about the book and a message to their father, who in turn listens to the tape.
Children in the BAT Club are also encouraged to use their local library. In addition to listing books that the father and child read together, the BAT membership card features a grid where each time a child takes out a book from his or her local library, the librarian can stamp their card. After three months, the child is awarded a £5 book token which can be used to purchase a book through a supplier who is offering discounted rates on books for the children. Maghaberry hopes to roll out the BAT Club to other categories of inmates in September.
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