Sarah Ostman
Communications Manager
ALA Public Programs Office

CHICAGO — Twenty-five libraries have been selected to participate in the pilot phase of the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Great Stories Club, a thematic reading and discussion program series that will engage underserved teens through literature-based library outreach programs and racial healing work, the American Library Association (ALA) announced.

The TRHT GSC is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

An expansion of ALA’s long-standing Great Stories Club program model, the TRHT Great Stories Club will feature books that explore the coming-of-age experience for young people in historically marginalized groups. The TRHT Great Stories Club is a part of the Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation efforts, a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

The grantees represent twenty public libraries, two K-12 school libraries, one academic/college library and two prison libraries. Some grantees will work in partnership with alternative schools, youth detention centers and other organizations that serve youth. View a full list of grantee libraries and their partner organizations.

The libraries will work with small groups of teens to read and discuss three titles — selected by librarians and humanities scholars to resonate with reluctant readers facing difficult challenges — on the theme “Growing Up Brave on the Margins.”

Featured titles will include “Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal” by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona; “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas; and “MARCH: Book One” by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell.

Participating libraries will host at least three book discussion programs and at least one interactive racial healing session, led by a racial healing practitioner familiar with the Kellogg Foundation’s TRHT framework and racial healing approach. Programming will take place between May and October 2018.

Towson University, a public university near Baltimore, Maryland, will implement the TRHT Great Stories Club program by drawing on partnerships between Towson’s Center for Student Diversity and students from Baltimore City Schools.

“Our primary goals are that participants in the program get these three empowering books in their hands and get to meet each other in a space where their voices are central,” wrote Miriam DesHarnais, research and instruction librarian at Towson University’s Albert S. Cook Library. “By connecting the high school students with university students who are involved with Towson University’s Black Student Union, Towson Freedom School and our library’s A-LIST Student Leadership Program, we hope to provide a window into what activism and engagement on a college campus can look like.”

Grantees will receive 11 copies of each of the three book selections (ten 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 a two-day orientation workshop in Chicago for project directors.

The TRHT Great Stories Club will be administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office in partnership with ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services.

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 ALA Great Stories Club

A project of the American Library Association (ALA), the Great Stories Club (GSC) is a reading and discussion program model that targets underserved, troubled teen populations. Launched in 2006, the GSC has received funding from Oprah’s Angel Network, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ford Foundation, bringing literary reading and discussion programming to more than 800 libraries and 30,000 young adults. The project seeks to inspire teens to consider “big questions” about the world around them and their place in it, affecting how they view themselves as thinkers and creators; establish important connections between underserved youth, their public library and community support agencies; and contribute to improved literacy and changed, positive attitudes toward reading.

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