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Grant will allow librarians to lead book clubs with underserved teens

Montclair Public Library receives Great Stories Club grant from the American Library Association

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The Montclair Public Library has been selected as one of 70 libraries nationwide to take part in the Great Stories Club, a reading and discussion program for underserved teens. This competitive grant is offered by the American Library Association (ALA) with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“Montclair is facing issues of equity and inclusion in many areas including affordable housing, income inequality, food insecurity, and the educational achievement gap,” said Peter Coyl, Library Director. “We hope this program will help equip our young people with the knowledge and skills to share their voice in these and other important conversations.”

As part of the Great Stories Club series on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation, staff from the Montclair Public Library will work with teens to read and discuss stories that explore questions of race, equity, identity, history, institutional change, and social justice.

The books — curated for the theme “Finding Your Voice: Speaking Truth to Power” — will include “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo; “I Am Alfonso Jones” by Tony Medina; “Piecing Me Together” by Renée Watson; and “American Street” by Ibi Zoboi.

The titles were selected to inspire young people — especially those facing difficult circumstances or challenges — to consider "big questions" about the world around them and their place in it.

The Montclair Public Library will receive a $1,200 programming grant and 11 copies of each of the selected books, which will be gifted to the book club participants. The Montclair Public Library will also receive resources and training, including travel and accommodations for an orientation workshop in Chicago in March 2019. The workshop will include dialogue facilitation training led by consultants to Everyday Democracy and program modeling led by national project scholar Susana M. Morris (Georgia Institute of Technology).

Gatherings of the Great Stories Club at the Montclair Public Library will begin in July. More information will be available on the Library website montclairlibrary.org or can be obtained by contacting Kiersten Paine, Young Adult Librarian at 973-744-0500 extension 2240.

The Montclair Public Library has taken an active role in ensuring equity of access and services. In 2017, the Library in partnership with Toni’s Kitchen and Partner’s for Health Foundation began offering free lunches in the summer (and during other week long school breaks) to any child, regardless of need. The Montclair Public Library also provided English as a Second Language training to restaurant workers in Montclair through a grant from Vernon Library Supplies. Beginning in 2019 Library staff will critically examine all programs and services to ensure that all offerings are fully supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Since 2006, ALA’s Great Stories Club has helped libraries engage young adults with accessible, thought-provoking literature. The current series is 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.

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