Great Stories about the Great Stories CLUB

You might have read about the Great Stories CLUB Grant here on the YALSA blog or maybe you received a flyer or e-mail about it.  Now you may be wondering if this program is right for you, your library, and your community.  What better way to find out more than to talk to some librarians who have used the Great Stories CLUB Grant in their communities? 

To give you a better idea of what a Great Stories CLUB Grant can mean for the teens in your community, some past participants in the program have volunteered to discuss their experiences.  These first-hand stories give you a closer look at what the Great Stories CLUB Grant can do.  We start with Deborah Motley, the Young Adult Services Librarian at the Orion Township Public Library in Lake Orion, Michigan.

For more information on the Great Stories CLUB, including guidelines, book descriptions, application instructions, and even more feedback from past participants, visit www.ala.org/greatstories. Online applications will be accepted through November 2. 

Keep an eye out for other participant stories here on the YALSA blog.  Any past recipients reading are encouraged to discuss their experiences in the comments!

Now let’s hear Deb’s great story …

Why did you decide to apply for the Great Stories CLUB?
The teens from Crossroads Village were coming to the library once a week to use our computers. When I saw the GSC opportunity, it seemed to be a natural fit.

What organization did your library partner with? 
It’s a program called Crossroads for Youth which is a juvenile detention center in a neighboring community. They provide troubled children a supportive, positive environment in which to learn how to succeed in life.

How many students participated in the Great Stories CLUB through your library?
Usually between 10-14 boys, ages 13-18.

What were some benefits from the Great Stories CLUB grant that you never initially expected?
I didn’t expect the benefits to me, personally. I was gratified to see the teens become enthusiastic about our discussions. They were thoughtful about the books, and since the end of the program, ask me weekly when we’re going to start again.

What books seemed to really engage Great Stories CLUB participants?
The best discussion we had was on Luna. Making the distinction between people who are transgender and homosexual drew out some prejudices that I’m sure they didn’t consider prejudices. They also liked The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. Although they liked Black and White, it wasn’t their favorite, as I would have expected.

Can you share some comments or a special story from your Great Stories CLUB experience?
I was told that these teens were bored when they weren’t at school at Crossroads. It never occurred to me that reading would be what they wanted to stave off that boredom. I had assumed, given their backgrounds, that they would be more interested in sports or video games. But they love to read.

What would you tell librarians interested in applying for a Great Stories CLUB grant?
This is a great program that has as many rewards for the librarian as it does for the teen participants.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Deb!  Is there anything better than when teens surprise us? :)

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