Join the Next Great Stories CLUB

The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) announced the theme and book titles for the fourth round of Great Stories CLUB grants. YALSA’s Outreach to Young Adults with Special Needs Interest Group selected “Second Chances” as the Great Stories CLUB theme, along with the following titles: Hate List by Jennifer Brown (Little, Brown Books, 2009); Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers (Amistad, 2009); and The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees (Hyperion, 2009).

Launched in 2005, the Great Stories CLUB (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens, and Books) is a book club program designed to reach underserved, troubled teen populations through books that are relevant to their lives. All types of libraries (public, school, academic, and special) located within or working in partnership with facilities serving troubled teens in the United States and its territories are eligible to apply for a Great Stories Club grant. Potential organizations for Great Stories CLUB partnership include juvenile justice facilities, drug rehabilitation centers, nonprofit organizations serving teen parents, alternative high schools, agencies serving teenaged foster children, shelters serving homeless and runaway youth, and other agencies. Tips for creating a partnership:

  • Gather a list of potential community partners, and decide which agency to approach. If you are not familiar with the agencies in your community that serve troubled teens, consult the yellow pages or the Internet. You may wish to search for local social service agencies, the department of juvenile justice, the department of children and family services, or any area alternative schools.
  • Once you’ve selected a potential community partner, identify a contact person at the facility, keeping in mind who the players are and what the politics may be like. Possible contacts include directors, teachers, librarians, supervisors, counselors, and so on. There may be a Friends of the Juvenile Hall group that may be of help, a board member at your library who volunteers at a local shelter or social service agency, a reading teacher at an alternative school, or another person who can help make your case within the organization.
  • Depending on what your research has yielded, speak with the contact you’ve identified. Potential partners may be interested to know that, by participating in the Great Stories CLUB, they will be part of a national teen services initiative of the American Library Association that is being supported by Oprah’s Angel Network.
  • Present your contact with a clear and simple proposal describing the program and activities you would like to implement.
  • Work with your contact to create a workable program plan, taking into consideration such factors as institutional procedures (security clearance, authorization, and so on).

Electronic applications for the reading and discussion series will be accepted September 13 through November 19. Following the application process, 150 libraries will be selected to develop a book discussion program for teens based on the three theme-related titles and will be given copies of the books to share with each participant. Participating libraries will also receive access to an online toolkit to support the program, including sample discussion questions, recommended titles for further reading, and other resources. Small cash grants ($100–$200) will be awarded to as many as twenty-five sites for the support of program-related expenses.

For more information on the Great Stories CLUB, including guidelines, book descriptions and application instructions, visit the Great Stories CLUB pages.