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Young Adult Authors to Speak With At-Risk Youth as Part of the ALA Great Stories Club Tour

CHICAGO, IL — Five acclaimed young adult authors and illustrators will travel to public libraries, alternative high schools and juvenile justice centers around the country to speak with young people as part of the Great Stories Club, a reading and discussion program for at-risk youth, the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office announced.

The following individuals will take part in the tour, discussing some of their most popular works: author MK Asante (“Buck: A Memoir”), author Jay Asher (“Thirteen Reasons Why”), author Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell (“March” trilogy) and illustrator Matt Weigle (“No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels: Romeo & Juliet”).

Between now and July 2017, hundreds of teenagers at libraries nationwide will read these works as part of the Great Stories Club. Created in 2006, the program strives to introduce young adults to accessible and thought-provoking literature selected by humanities scholars to resonate with readers struggling with complex issues like incarceration, violence and poverty. Programs are conducted by libraries working in partnership with juvenile justice facilities, alternative schools, residential treatment facilities, group homes and other community organizations that serve at-risk youth.

“At its heart, the Great Stories Club illustrates something that libraries do every day: connecting powerful, inspiring literature with people of all ages as they face their own life challenges,” said ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. “The fact we are now able to put participating young people face-to-face with the creators of these amazing titles is truly remarkable, and we are grateful for the opportunity.”

To kick off the tour, Asante will visit the Fayetteville Public Library in Fayetteville, N.C., at 6 p.m. on Sept. 14. The event is free and open to the public. Learn more about the Fayetteville Public Library event.

Asante will also give two closed talks for students: one at Ramsey Street High School in Fayetteville, N.C., on Sept. 14, and a second at Antonia Pantoja High School in Chicago on Nov. 17. Additional author appearances will be scheduled as programs move ahead through 2017. 

The Great Stories Club author tour is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Great Stories Club is administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office in partnership with the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), including the Library Services for Youth in Custody and Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained interest groups. The Great Stories Club has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence.

Since its creation, the program has reached more than 700 libraries and more than 30,000 young adults (ages 13 to 21).

Recent themes have included “The Art of Change: Creation, Growth and Transformation” and “Hack the Feed: Media, Resistance, Revolution.” An additional round of Great Stories Club grants will be awarded in early 2017 with the theme “Nature vs. Nurture: Origins of Teen Violence and Suicide.” Applications will open on Nov. 1, 2016. For more information, visithttps://apply.ala.org/greatstories.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

About ALA’s Public Programs Office

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of library professionals nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. For programming ideas, professional development and grant opportunities, on-demand online courses and other free resources, visit www.ProgrammingLibrarian.org.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through 2016. Go to arts.gov/50th to enjoy art stories from around the nation, peruse Facts & Figures, and check out the anniversary timeline.

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