If there is one organization that believes that books can change the world, it is the American Library Association. It is currently offering opportunities for local libraries to apply for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Great Stories Club , a program to use literature as a catalyst for racial healing in underserved youth. Since 2006, the Great Stories Club (GSC) has been writing its own tradition of connecting with young people through topics that matter to them. This year the theme is “Growing Up in the Margins,” and up to 25 libraries will be selected to host the events.
The Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Great Stories Club
The TRHT is a pilot program that will enable selected libraries to organize small groups of teens around three preselected books. The libraries will host at least three book discussions and one interactive racial healing session. The goals of the program include but are not limited to:
- Providing outreach to underserved youth, particularly those in alternative education, the juvenile justice system, residential treatment, and other social service programs.
- Connecting participating youth with age appropriate literature that helps them explore topics related to racial and ethnic identity, racism, and equity.
- Providing participating youth the opportunity to connect with racial healing practitioners.
- Developing a collection of literary-based resources related to issues of race and equity.
- Establishing new partnerships between public libraries, community, and cultural groups.
- Facilitating positive change in the future.
Past Alumni of the Great Stories Club
Previous Great Stories Club grants had different themes, all relating to pressing issues faced by contemporary teens. Past recipients include:
- Fairfax County Public Library - Partnered with a community shelter across the street from a local branch to host discussions with at-risk youth about suicide and violence.
- Auburn Public Library - Partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine to help young people become conscious of the media's role in shaping their self-identities and perceptions of the world around them.
- Nassau Free Library - Partnered with the Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, part of the Berkshire Union Free School District, to explore art as a positive way to cope with change.
Applying for the Great Stories Club
Eligible applicants are Native American tribes and tribal organizations, state and local governments, schools/school districts, academic institutions, nonprofits, and consortia. Applicant libraries should be located within an organization that serves underresourced, troubled, or at-risk teens, or partner with an organization that serves this population. Apply by February 16, 2018.
This year, the Great Stories Club has been made possible by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Their partnership with the American Library Association is part of the foundation's broader Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation initiative to help our country heal from the scars of racism and ethnocentrism. Visit their website for more information and ways you and your community can become involved: healourcommunities.org.
We wish you a meaningful Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day!