Auburn library gets grant for teen empathy, hero program

AUBURN — The Auburn Public Library has been selected as one of 100 libraries nationwide to take part in the Great Stories Club, a reading and discussion program for underserved teens.

For the next year, the library will participate in two series – “Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides” and “What Makes a Hero? Self, Society and Rising to the Occasion.” Books to be read on empathy will include “Flight,” by Sherman Alexie; “Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation,” by Octavia Butler, Damian Duffy and John Jennings; “All American Boy,s” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely; and “March: Book Three,” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. On the topic of heroes, teens will read “Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze; “Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began,” by Art Spiegelman; “Binti,” by Nnedi Okorafor; and “Buck: A Memoir,” by M.K. Asante.
The titles were selected in consultation with humanities scholars and librarians to inspire teens — especially those facing difficult circumstances or challenges — to consider “big questions” about the world around them and their place in it, ultimately affecting how they view themselves as thinkers and creators.
The competitive grant is offered by the American Library Association with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Library staff will work with the Boys & Girls Club (Auburn/Lewiston Clubhouse) to identify teens for this program. During the course of the series, the participants will meet to read and discuss stories that explore the concepts of empathy and what it means to be a hero.
As part of the grant, the library will receive 11 copies of each of the selected books, which will be gifted to the book club participants. APL will also receive resources and training, including travel and accommodations for an orientation workshop in Chicago. The workshops will include dialogue facilitation training led by consultants to Everyday Democracy and program modeling led by national project scholars Maria Sachiko Cecire (Bard College) and Anna Mae Duane (University of Connecticut).
Gatherings of the Great Stories Club at the Auburn Public Library will begin in mid-October. For more information, contact Donna Wallace, teen librarian, 207-333-6640, ext. 4 or dwallace@auburnpubliclibrary.org.