Youth Programs

Youth Programs and Story Talk / Cuentos y Plática

Youth are at a crossroads in their lives. They seek an identity, yet they are still building an identity. They long to share their questions and insights with others, yet often they are afraid or reluctant to do so. Youth frequently crave outlets for their emotions and experiences. Yet, intense self-consciousness often prevents them from sharing their thoughts and seeking feedback.

This is the age of wanting to be seen and wanting to be invisible, often simultaneously. When they share their ideas aloud and receive feedback from others (“yeah, I know what you mean…something like that happened to me…that really moved me”), they are likely to feel less isolated. Over time, this exchange can help build community, trust, empathy and an appreciation for differences as well as for experiences that members have in common.

Our approach to introducing young audiences to the reading and discussion of literature reflects current scholarship on the benefits of the study of the humanities for public audiences. Literary thinking fosters new vision.

In The Literate Mind, Judith A. Langer focuses on “how the literate mind develops—how people become rich thinkers and language users, good discussants and learners, and how they become able to manage well in life and society.” She concludes that one of the strongest vehicles for developing cognitive abilities is the study of literature.

The following are questions we ask teen audiences considering participation in Story Talk:

  • Do you like to share ideas?
  • Are you thinking about big issues in life and wondering how to talk about them?
  • Have you ever read a story or watched a movie that reminded you of yourself, your life or people you know?
  • Are you looking for a creative outlet?
  • Are you interested in participating in a learning environment where your opinions, insights, life experiences are valued and encouraged?
  • Do you like poetry and other verbal creative expressions?


Story Talk / Cuentos y Plática has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

National Endowment for the Humanities