A youth program aimed at building understanding of Muslim culture is underway at the Cromaine District Library.
The Hartland Township library is one of five nationally taking part in Muslim Voices, a pilot program created by the New York Humanities Council.
In the Cromaine program, youngsters in grades 3-6 read books focusing on Muslim children roughly their own age.
“One book focuses on a child whose family flees from Afghanistan and comes to the U.S. because their father doesn’t want to join the Taliban,” said library youth manager Jeanne Smith, who is directing the program.
While the books include aspects of Muslim culture, Smith said themes are universal.
“In one book, for instance, a student deals with bullying,” she said.
After reading, students attend discussion sessions at the library with Smith and her husband, Philip, a social studies teacher at Charyl Stockwell Academy.
Discussions focus on situations the characters face and how they relate to the readers’ lives.
“We ask questions like, ‘What would you?’ and ‘How would you react?’ ” Smith said.
Smith and her husband attended a training session in New York City to prepare.
The Muslim Voices program, supported locally through the Michigan Humanities Council, requires participation from a teacher.
The program began March 17 and runs for six nonconsecutive weeks.
Eleven youngsters are participating in the program, and a limited number of additional openings remain.
A similar pilot program for older students will soon begin at the Dearborn Public Library.
Additional programs are being run at libraries in Minnesota, Oklahoma and upstate New York.
Cromaine was selected as a pilot program host site after applying to the state humanities council.
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