by Jean I. Anderson
How do you find your voice if it’s been stilled by screaming, hushed by abuse, threats, or self-doubt, inaudible because of tears, or disregarded and ignored?
You find it when someone is listening, someone is asking questions about your questions.
Such an opportunity was created over two decades ago with the Evanston-based organization Literature for All of Us. Thousands of young people who have struggled to find their voice through positive connections have done so through this organization.
Connections are made with group leaders, trained to engage young people in works of literature that, in the written word, express what they have been unable or reluctant to articulate. What has come forth is powerful verse.
Literature for All of Us works through The Night Ministry‘s services with a book group called The Crib, which provides “urgent and essential literacy and social-emotional support (these young people) so desperately need.”
The Crib reaches out to detention centers, alternative high schools, teen parenting facilities, and to adults in workforce development programs. Find out more about the outstanding contribution of this organization by visiting LiteratureForAllofUs.org.
From the most recent focus of this year’s curriculum, Transforming Justice, comes the work of a young poet who names herself “princess”:
Free for Life
Instead of prisons, give me guidance
Instead of punishing us, teach us
Instead of hating us, love us
Instead of watching us fail, help us succeed
Instead of killing us, help us live
Give us love and protection