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Library grant provides programming for at-risk teens

3/3/2017, 6 a.m.

Local at-risk teens will benefit from a grant awarded to the DeKalb Public Library for a book club program.

The American Library Association grant is for the Great Stories Club, a reading and discussion program that will focus on teen violence and suicide.

The library received the grant in January and was among 75 recipients from across the country. The grantees represent 55 public libraries, 17 school libraries, one academic/college library, and two prison libraries. The 2017 theme is “Structures of Suffering: Origins of Teen Violence and Suicide.”

The first program is scheduled for March 25 at the offices of the DeKalb Board of Health.

The library is partnering with the DeKalb Office of Youth Services to conduct the book club. Youth Services works to help at-risk children in DeKalb and has selected 25 teen girls for participation. The teens will read and discuss three books in which protagonists deal with teen violence, bullying and suicide.

Gina Jenkins, the library’s Youth Services coordinator, said the program presents an opportunity for meaningful dialogue.

“So many teens in our community struggle with issues of violence and suicide, and much of the time, adults are painfully unaware of what they’re going through,” Jenkins said in a Feb. 23 statement. “We think this program is a wonderful opportunity to use literature to begin important conversations with our young people about these problems and how to deal with them.”

Book titles for the program are “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini, and “Romeo and Juliet,” a graphic novel illustrated by Matt Weigle. Selected by library advisers and humanities scholars, the books were chosen to resonate with reluctant readers who deal with complex issues such as violence, incarceration and poverty.

The Great Stories Club grant is administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office in partnership with the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies, including the Library Services for Youth in Custody and Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained interest groups. The Great Stories Club is made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information, visit www.dekalblibrary.org and www.ala.org.