100 libraries selected to lead Great Stories Club reading programs with underserved youth

For Immediate Release
Tue, 07/24/2018


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office



CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) has announced 100 libraries nationwide selected to take part in the Great Stories Club, a national grant program that supports reading and discussion programs for underserved teens.

The grantees represent 77 public libraries, 14 school/K-12 libraries, three college/university libraries, two community college libraries, three prison libraries, and one tribal library. They come from 35 states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

View the grantees and their partner organizations for “Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides.”

View the grantees and their partner organizations for “What Makes a Hero? Self, Society and Rising to the Occasion.”

Created in 2006, the Great Stories Club engages young adults with accessible, thought-provoking literature, facilitates humanities-based discussion with peers, and encourages library outreach partnerships with alternative schools, juvenile detention facilities and a variety of other youth-focused community organizations.

The 2018-19 themes for the Great Stories Club are “Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides” and “What Makes a Hero? Self, Society and Rising to the Occasion.” Working with small groups of approximately 10 teens, participating library professionals will discuss stories from one or both themes.

“Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides” will feature the following titles:

  • “Flight” by Sherman Alexie (Read ALA’s statement about the use of “Flight” for this project.)
  • “Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation” by Octavia Butler, Damian Duffy and John Jennings
  • “All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  • “Stuck in Neutral” by Terry Trueman
  • “March: Book Three” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

“What Makes a Hero? Self, Society and Rising to the Occasion” will feature the following titles:

  • “Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
  • “Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began” by Art Spiegelman
  • “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor
  • “Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two” by Joseph Bruchac
  • “What Can(t) Wait” by Ashley Hope Pérez
  • "Buck: A Memoir" by M.K. Asante

The titles were selected in consultation with humanities scholars and librarians to inspire teens — especially those facing difficult circumstances or challenges — to consider "big questions" about the world around them and their place in it, ultimately affecting how they view themselves as thinkers and creators.

“It is our goal as educators to help students develop a sense of identity, yet connect with and find understanding with people who are different,” said Great Stories Club grantee Amber Peterson, assistant youth services librarian at Norfolk (Nebraska) Public Library. “We hope (the Great Stories Club) will also empower our students to see themselves differently, to see their world differently and be part of the work to change it.”

Grantees will receive 11 paperback copies of each of the three book selections (10 to gift to participants; one for discussion leader/library collection); programming materials such as discussion guides, reading lists and program activities; and training opportunities, including travel and accommodations for an orientation workshop in Chicago. The workshops will include dialogue facilitation training led by consultants to Everyday Democracy and program modeling led by national project scholars Maria Sachiko Cecire (Bard College) and Anna Mae Duane (University of Connecticut).

The grant will be administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office. The Great Stories Club has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.

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: www.neh.gov.