For immediate release | April 14, 2022

Samantha Mora receives AASL Innovative Reading Grant

CHICAGO – Samantha Mora, teacher librarian at Wood River Middle School in Hailey, Idaho, is the recipient of the 2022 American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Innovative Reading Grant. Sponsored by Capstone, the $2,500 grant supports the planning and implementation of a unique and innovative program for children that motivates and encourages reading, especially with struggling readers.

Mora’s project, the “Wood River Middle School Graphic Novel/Manga Student Advisory Committee,” has been collaborating since October of 2021 to create a manga section and improve the graphic novel collection in the school library. The student committee members are empowered by researching books and contributing to the collection and are engaged as contributors, members, and stakeholders in the school library.

“The committee was struck by the level of student agency for this program,” said Alexa Lalejini, committee chair. “Mora’s project is a wonderful program that is easily replicable in other school libraries. The expansion of the collection and promotion of reading is wonderful, but the extended student committee involvement through promotion on the school communication channels and running a Manga Book Club to increase reading and engagement made this program stand out.”

Mora shares, “I am amazed by the reading habits of my committee members, many of whom are not seen as ‘readers’ or engaged students by their teachers. This grant allows me to create a larger collection that would be accessible to more students, as well as to promote reading with a manga book club enrichment during our school’s dedicated intervention/enrichment time. With this collection, I hope to engage reluctant readers and improve their reading outcomes.”

“One of AASL’s common beliefs is that reading is the core of personal and academic competency. AASL promotes the leadership role of school librarians in organizing and promoting projects and events that encourage learners to become lifelong learners and readers” said AASL President Jennisen Lucas. “To not only offer resources for reluctant readers but to engage the students as stakeholders of the program, truly advances and highlights the value of a school librarian at the helm of reading programming in a school community.”

The AASL award winners will be recognized during the 2023 AASL National Conference taking place October 19-21 in Tampa, Florida.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


Allison Cline

Deputy Executive Director

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)