Through funding from the United Way of Greater Atlanta African American Partnership program, The Villages at Carver YMCA was selected as a Build a Library site and initiated a weekly teen book club. The book club has introduced teens to books they may not normally read, and encourages them to make new friends, gain new perspectives, strengthen teamwork, and enhance reading and writing skills.
“The book club focuses on critical thinking, understanding and making connections,” says Bilal Blake, Teen Director at The Villages at Carver Family YMCA. “The club allows us to have important discussions on real life situations that the teens can relate to.”
Students in the book club are excited to share their experiences in the program. “The book club is helping me pick up my reading levels,” says seventh-grade participant Christopher Wright. “When I read aloud, I don’t feel nervous. It is going to help me on the Georgia Milestones because I will read the question and go back and look at the text to find more information.”
Ninth-grade participant Deron Dill says his favorite subject in school is World Literature, and he knows reading and writing is going to take him a long way in life. Katerrick Terrell, a 10th-grade participant, says the book club has increased his speed and confidence.
In 2016, The United Way of Greater Atlanta African American Partnership established the goal of improving academic outcomes for African-American young men and boys. The Villages at Carver Family YMCA was one of its first afterschool partners in reaching this goal. Today, YMCA youth participate in the book club, leadership workshops, team-building projects, creative writing classes and homework tutoring.