Libraries invited to apply for Great Stories Club ‘Origins of Teen Violence and Suicide’ Grants

For Immediate Release
Tue, 11/01/2016


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office


CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office invites libraries to apply for the Great Stories Club, a reading and discussion program for underserved teens featuring books under the theme “Nature vs. Nurture: Origins of Teen Violence and Suicide.” The project is supported with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Working with small groups of 6 to 10 teens, grantees will host reading and discussion events for each of three selected book titles. The Great Stories Club titles — selected by humanities scholars in consultation with librarian advisors— are chosen to resonate with reluctant readers struggling with complex issues like incarceration, violence and poverty.

Eligible libraries are located within or working in partnership with organizations that serve at-risk youth, such as alternative high schools, juvenile justice organizations, homeless shelters, foster care agencies, teen parenting programs, residential treatment facilities and other nonprofit and community agencies. Up to 100 grants will be awarded.

Applications will be accepted from Nov. 1 to Dec. 30, 2016. Visit for guidelines and to apply online.

For more information and tips for submitting a successful application, join ALA staff and past Great Stories Club grant recipients for a webinar, “Apply Now: ALA’s Great Stories Club,” at 2 p.m. CST on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Register for the webinar.

Featured titles for the 2017 “Nature vs. Nurture” theme include protagonists who are dealing with issues surrounding teen violence, bullying, and suicide. Books include “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher; “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini; and “Romeo and Juliet” (No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels), illustrated by Matt Weigle.

Grantees will receive:

  • 11 paperback copies of each of the three book selections (10 to gift to participants; 1 for discussion leader/library collection)
  • Programming materials, including discussion guides, related reading lists, sample activities and promotional resources
  • Training opportunities, including travel and accommodations for a 1-1/2-day orientation workshop in March 2017 for library project directors who are new to the Great Stories Club. (Those who have implemented a past Great Stories Club grant in 2015-16 will receive online training, and may also apply to attend the March workshop as space allows.)

Programs that support the “Nature vs. Nurture” theme must take place between March and August 2017.

The current theme was developed by Laura Bates, professor of English at Indiana State University and author of “Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard” (2013, Sourcebooks). Advisory support is provided by Ally Dowds, technology librarian at the Boston Public Library, and Nosheen Hydari, AMFT, crisis therapist at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago.

The grant will be administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office in partnership with the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), including the Library Services for Youth in Custody and Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained interest groups. The Great Stories Club has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence. Funding for the March 2017 workshop has been provided by the Ford Foundation.

First offered as a pilot in 2006, ALA’s Great Stories Club has reached 700 libraries in 49 states and more than 30,000 young adults (ages 12 to 21).

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

About the ALA Public Programs Office

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of library professionals nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. For programming ideas, professional development and grant opportunities, on-demand online courses and other free resources, visit

About the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies

The Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) is the premiere destination for ALA members to find information and build capacity to serve populations that are served by state library agencies, specialized libraries, library cooperatives and library consultants. ASCLA enhances the effectiveness of library service by advocating for and providing high quality networking, enrichment and educational opportunities for its diverse members, who represent state library agencies, libraries serving special populations, library cooperatives, and library consultants. Please visit our website at

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at