For Immediate Release
Samantha Thomason
Community Relations Manager
Library awarded American Library Association's Great Stories Club Grant for third year
Fredericksburg, Virginia, September 6, 2018 - For the third year, Central Rappahannock Regional Library (CRRL) has been selected to receive the American Library Association's (ALA) competitive Great Stories Club grant to host a reading and discussion program for at-risk youth. This year's themes are "Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides" and "What Makes a Hero? Self, Society and Rising to the Occasion." Wini Ashooh, CRRL Youth Services Librarian - Teen Specialist and grant coordinator, will work with a group of teens at the Rappahannock Juvenile Center (RJC) to read and discuss three books exploring each theme:

Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides:

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia Butler, Damian Duffy and John Jennings
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

What Makes a Hero? Self, Society, and Rising to the Occasion:

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Buck: A Memoir by M.K. Asante

The titles - selected by librarian advisors and humanities scholars - were chosen to resonate with reluctant readers who struggle with complex issues such as incarceration, violence, and poverty. Ashooh will receive 11 copies of each of the six books, which will be gifted to the book club participants. Ashooh will also attend ALA training in Chicago, Illinois and receive resources to assist with leading the book group.

CRRL is one of 100 Great Stories Club grant recipients selected from across the country. The grantees represent 77 public libraries, 14 school/K-12 libraries, three college/university libraries, two community college libraries, three prison libraries, and one tribal library. 

Regarding this year's grant, Ashooh, says:

"Both the themes of empathy and heroism will expand the world view of many of these teens as they have limited exposure to the world beyond their own neighborhood.
Incarcerated youth are also typically reluctant readers. The titles that are offered through the work of the Great Stories Club grant have popular appeal while conveying important messages. The discussions surrounding these titles will additionally allow the teens to open up about their own circumstances and concerns. Introducing RJC residents to books with characters and content familiar to them in a theme with wide teen appeal will encourage lifelong learning and forge a powerful relationship between them and their public library."

The Rappahannock Juvenile Center is an 80-bed, co-ed facility that provides secure incarceration for court-ordered youth ages 12-18, crisis intervention, substance abuse, and counseling services serving the 15th District Court Unit comprising of the City of Fredericksburg, King George County, Spotsylvania County and Stafford County.

Ashooh visits RJC residents twice monthly and has been providing library services there since 2008. In addition to discussing the titles made available by the Great Stories Club grant, Ashooh shares other titles of interest, instructs residents on the use of online library resources, shares and discusses TED Talks with the group, and maintains an up-to-date dedicated collection of titles that reflects the current needs and interests of the residents.
The Great Stories Club grant allows Ashooh's work with RJC youth to have even more impact.

The grant will be administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office. The Great Stories Club has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

For more information, contact Wini Ashooh, Youth Services Librarian - Teen Specialist,, 540-372-1144 ext. 7333, Porter Branch, Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

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