Generating youth dialogue through the literary arts: A citywide youth health collaboration in the U.S.

Tasha L. Golden, Richard Sima, Grace Roebuck, Sonakshi Gupta, Susan Magsamen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A process and outcomes evaluation was conducted of a citywide literary-arts initiative designed to reduce stigma, amplify underrepresented narratives, and generate dialogue about violence. Over 4 months, students in 85 middle schools read a novel addressing mental health and violence-related themes. As a collaboration between a public school district and public library system, the program's classroom activities emphasized dialogue, while coordinated library events supported community engagement. Students completed pre/postsurveys (total n = 1487); school program leaders (n = 39) and public librarians (n = 14) completed postsurveys. Half of student respondents reported personal encounters with violence. Most said the novel influenced their thinking; students with personal experiences of violence reported greater influence than those without. Highest rates of dialogue were seen among students who read the novel in full, and over half of postsurvey respondents wanted more dialogue opportunities. Leaders and librarians indicated that the program was smoothly integrated with existing curricula, but also offered recommendations for improved processes. Findings suggest that this intervention was effective at stimulating dialogue while providing assets-based opportunities for youth to share experiences and concerns. Current program processes indicate promise for further engagement and impact, with some modifications. To this end, authors draw upon evaluation findings and youth development literature to offer recommendations for program development and replication in other regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2515-2529
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of community psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • adolescent health
  • arts-based
  • community health
  • health promotion
  • literary arts
  • youth dialogue
  • youth violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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