We currently have a "book club" with Carol Lenning a Prosser Librarian. The pictures are of the group reviewing and discussing the first book. We read "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexei.
My conception of at-risk youth, particularly those who've been expelled from school, is that they are not necessarily interested in going to the library. But the folks at Prosser Public Library in Bloomfield think that there is interest. The library is working with the school system's program for students who've been expelled on a book reading and discussion program. Prosser got a grant for the project through the American Library Association and its Great Stories CLUB. That last word is an acronym that stands for Connecting Underserved teens and Books. Prosser is one of five libraries in the state participating in the program and 237 nationwide.
The students participating in the program range in age from 10 to 16 years old. The plan is that the students read the books and then participate in discussions on them at the library, much like the book discussion groups many adults are in. The big difference here is that the youths participating have been expelled from school.
Like I said, I don't think of going to the library when I think about kids who've been kicked out of school. But Lisa Vallera, the coordinator who runs the program, said involving the library is a great way of getting her students integrated into the community.
"We try to work with the students on getting back to being good citizens," Vallera said. "And often the students who've been expelled feel isolated, this gets them started working in the community again."
And because the students in the expulsion program, which is called Successful Youth Now, eventually will return to regular classes they need to keep up on their academics. Vallera said the reading program helps them with the English part of the program's curriculum.
The students will read and then discuss three books. They are "Luna" by Julie Ann Peters, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie and "Black and White" by Paul Volponi.
Officials at Prosser approached Vallera about having her students participate. Carol Lennig, the adult services reference librarian at Prosser, said the library is always looking for ways it can partner with the school system. She said one requirement of the grant was that the library work with a local agency that serves at-risk youth.
"This is another way for us to partner with the schools and promote reading," Lennig said.