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Girls Night Out
The Kansas City Public Library - Ruiz Branch
Julie Robinson, Branch Manager, Julierobinson@kclibrary.org
The Westside of Kansas City, Missouri has a high dropout rate and a low literacy rate combined with a large low-income population. Many students are not able to read at grade level.
Girls’ Night Out is an after-hours book club and more. The book club concept was brought to the branch manager by a customer who wanted a book club for her daughter. Funded by an LSTA/IMLS grant, this teen girl program combines a book discussion with guest presenters who broach subjects such as healthy/unhealthy relationships, body image, self-esteem and self-confidence. Each participant is given the book of the month to keep in her own personal library.
In the six-month period of the grant, we have seen a growth in confidence among the girls. They feel free to express their thoughts about the books or interact during the presentation. A welcome addition to the original concept for the program has been the inclusion of as many community women as teen girls. These women read the books, express their own views and, just by attending, are being role models of successful women for those teens. Just recently one of the girls said “This was the first book that I finished. But I have all of them on the shelf by my bed.” The book she made reference to was the sixth book we had read. On a recent Saturday, three of the girls who attend Girls’ Night Out were in the library at the same time. They ended up spending the rainy afternoon together talking about books and using the computers. The girls only know each other through Girls’ Night Out and hadn’t spent time together outside the program before.