Montague Public Libraries awarded grant to support reading, discussion group for teens

By JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer

Published: 07-21-2023 1:43 PM

MONTAGUE — The Montague Public Libraries have been selected as one of 29 organizations to take part in the national “Great Stories Club” reading and discussion program for teens.

As part of the Great Stories Club, youth services staff will work with a small group of teenagers to “read and discuss stories that emphasize the significance of our lives in the past, present and future,” according to a statement from Youth Services Librarian Angela Rovatti-Leonard.

The American Library Association grant will provide 11 copies of books embracing the theme, “Imagining Tomorrow: Building Inclusive Futures” to distribute among participating teens, as well as a $500 programming stipend. The Montague Public Libraries will also receive online training and an array of program resources and support throughout the grant term.

“It feels really good to be able to provide teens with a safe space to talk about topics that are relevant to them,” said Montague Public Libraries Director Caitlin Kelley.

“We need books in which children can see reflections of themselves, but also look through and see other worlds,” Rovatti-Leonard said, quoting Rudine Sims Bishop, professor emerita at Ohio State University.

The curated selection of books includes “Victories Greater Than Death” by Charlie Jane Anders; “Across a Field of Starlight” by Blue Delliquanti; “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline; “The Sound of Stars” by Alechia Dow; and “War Girls” by Tochi Onyebuchi. The books were selected to “point toward the ways that teens might build shared futures while acknowledging the lessons of their origin stories,” according to Rovatti-Leonard.

Kelley noted these books — and coinciding discussion — are particularly relevant during a “divisive moment in our country” where there is “so much societal upheaval.”

“I feel that it’s very important to have these different conversations about topics that are covered in the books, such as anxiety, body image, racial identities and gender norms,” Rovatti-Leonard said.

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Rovatti-Leonard will lead the Great Stories Club meetings, which will feature book discussion, art creation in response to the reading and refreshments. Brick House Community Resource Center Youth Programs Director Megan Richardson will assist with programming. Events will be hosted between The Brick House, the three branch libraries and the Turners Falls High School library.

“The goal is to meet teens where they’re at,” Rovatti-Leonard explained, “not just at the library.”

While the Montague Public Libraries are planning a Great Stories Club kickoff event for the fall, all dates are to be decided and will be posted at montaguepubliclibraries.org.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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