Apply now for the Great Stories Club, a reading and discussion programs for underserved teens

For Immediate Release
Tue, 05/08/2018


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office


CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) is now accepting applications for the Great Stories Club, a grant program in which library workers lead reading and discussion programs with underserved teens in their communities.

Visit for project guidelines and to apply online. Applications are due July 9. Up to 150 grants will be awarded.

Working with small groups of approximately 10 teens, grantees will host reading and discussion programs for up to four thematically related books. The titles — selected in consultation with librarian advisors and humanities scholars — are chosen to resonate with reluctant readers struggling with complex issues like academic probation, detention, incarceration, violence and poverty.

All types of libraries are eligible, as long as they work in partnership with, or are located within, organizations that serve under-resourced 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. Libraries located in high-poverty communities are also eligible to apply, though outreach partnerships with youth-focused organizations are still encouraged. (Read an account of a former Great Stories Club grantee about her partnership with a juvenile detention center.)

Participating libraries may choose to work with one or both of the following themes during a 12-month programming period (September 2018 – August 2019): “Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides” and “What Makes a Hero? Self, Society and Rising to the Occasion.”

“Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides” will feature the following titles, from which libraries may select up to four. (Note that the following reading lists were updated on 5/14 to correct an error.)

  • “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, from which libraries may select up to four.

  • “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

Grantees will receive:

  • 11 paperback copies of up to four book selections (10 to gift to participants; one for discussion leader/library collection)
  • Travel and accommodation expenses paid for one staff member to attend a 1 ½-day project orientation workshop in Chicago (libraries selected to implement both Great Stories Club series may be assigned to attend only one workshop)
  • Programming materials, including discussion guides, related reading lists and promotional resources

Potential applicants may sign up for a free webinar to learn more about this opportunity. The webinar will be held at 1 p.m. Central Time on Monday, May 21. Reserve a spot for the webinar.

The Great Stories Club National Advisors are Allyson Dowds, Youth Technology Librarian for Teen Central at the Boston Public Library; Anna Mae Duane, Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut; Jennifer Mann, Professional Librarian at Washtenaw Community College; and Maria Sachiko Cecire, Director of Experimental Humanities and Assistant Professor of Literature at Bard College.

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

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 57,000 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 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: