Great Stories Club

"Finding Your Voice: Speaking Truth to Power"

Introduction by Susana M. Morris, Associate Professor of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology

The old adage goes, "children should be seen and not heard." That conventional wisdom implies that speaking up and out is the exclusive realm of adults. It also suggests that young people don't have important things to say — that they should stay out of adult conversation.

The truth is that young people have been vital to making change by speaking and showing up in the face of adversity. Take Joan of Arc, for example. In 1429, while just 18 years old, she led a French army to the besieged city of Orléans in a victory over the English. But we don't have to go back to 15th-century France to find young heroes. On November 14, 1960, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first African American child to integrate a white Southern elementary school. Her mother and U.S. marshals had to escort young Ruby to class because of violent mobs in her hometown of New Orleans. Bridges was born the same year that Brown v. Board of Education made "separate but equal" public spaces illegal, and her bravery was a milestone in the Civil Rights movement.

There are countless examples of young people taking a stand against injustice. "Finding Your Voice" includes texts that highlight the necessity and power of young people speaking up, despite challenges, social pressure, and even the threat of bigger dangers. Whether it is finding righteous anger as a superpower in Mark Oshiro's Anger is a Gift or speaking up through poetry and art as in Elizabeth Acevedo's The Poet X, "Finding Your Voice" features young people taking a stand against racism and other injustices in order to make the world a better place.

Reading list

Applicant libraries may select up to four books from the reading list below.

  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina
  • Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
  • Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi
  • Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro


Applications accepted online Sept. 5—Nov. 16, 2018
Grant notification: Dec. 7, 2018
Programming Term: March 1—Dec. 31, 2019
Workshop for grantees: March 7—8, 2019 in Chicago
Online final report due: January 31, 2020 or within 30 days of final program

Advisors for "Finding Your Voice" (View all TRHT Great Stories Club Implementation Team members and National Advisors)

  • Susana M. Morris (literature scholar) is an associate professor of literature, media and communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and co-founder of the popular feminist blog, The Crunk Feminist Collective. Susana is the author of "Close Kin and Distant Relatives: The Paradox of Respectability in Black Women's Literature" (UVA Press 2014) and co-editor, with Brittney C. Cooper and Robin M. Boylorn, of the anthology, "The Crunk Feminist Collection" (Feminist Press 2017). Susana is also series editor, along with Kinitra D. Brooks, of the book series "New Suns: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Speculative," published at The Ohio State University Press. Currently, she is a Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center Fellow at Georgia Tech working on her latest book project, "Electric Ladies: Black Women, Afrofuturism, and Feminism."
  • Angelina M. Cortes (librarian advisor) is a reference librarian and diversity trainer at Sno-Isle Libraries in the rural Snohomish and Island counties of the Pacific Northwest. She provides cultural competency, diversity and inclusion training to internal employees of 21 community libraries in the area. She has worked in private, academic and public libraries as a cataloger, archivist and special librarian. Angelina is a partner with the Social Justice Education Around Technology (S.E.A.T.) Institute based out of Washington's Puget Sound area. Angelina holds a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington at Seattle and a Bachelors of Spanish and Latin American Literature and Creative Writing from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.
  • Joslyn Bowling Dixon (librarian advisor) is the assistant director for the Prince William Library System, serving Prince William County, Virginia. Joslyn has a depth of public library knowledge that spans 20 years of extensive management experience and includes supervising service to children and young adults in urban and suburban public library systems In Illinois, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. Joslyn serves on the Coretta Scott King Awards Executive Committee as the chair of the Marketing Committee and has presented at ALA national and regional conferences on the subject of spaces, places and literature for teens, as well as the need for civil discourse on race using the public library as an effective catalyst and platform for change. Joslyn has a B.A. in English from Hampton University and earned her MLIS in 2008 at Dominican University.
  • Amira Shabana (librarian advisor) is the managing school librarian for Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois. Since 2009, she has worked as a school librarian at the elementary school level, junior high level, and now, high school level. She has worked in a variety of library settings—school, public, and special libraries including the Art Institute of Chicago-Ryerson & Burnham Libraries. Her academic achievements include a B.A. in history and art history from the University of Illinois, a Master of Library and Information Science from Dominican University and a Reading Specialist endorsement from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently part of the reader panel for the Illinois State High School Reading List Abe Lincoln Teen Choice Award and a member of the Art Institute's Teacher Action Panel. Amira is passionate about social justice, educational equity and the opportunity to turn this passion into action as a member of ALA's TRHT GSC Implementation Team.

Programming Materials

Promotional Materials

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