08/01/2013 03:03 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2013

Teen Girls Prove Their Power in the Middle

Teen girls are very close to my heart. They are vulnerable, sensitive, brave and too often fearful of tomorrow... Our first Reading Program at Pajama Program"s new Reading Center here for Middle School-age girls was held every day for two weeks this past July. The girls named the program PIM -- Power in the Middle -- and the Program was coordinated by our Literacy Advisory Board members. Our Literacy Board gave the girls a voice and the freedom to share it through this Program.

The PIM girls live in a nearby group home and and signed up, I'm sure, out of curiosity. In addition to a book-club type scenario to encourage reading, we wanted to give the girls a safe space to share their feelings, dreams and fears. The girls read The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake. There were places in the book where the girls related well to the situations at hand and the discussions about these scenarios were lively, poignant and very forthcoming. All of us in the room participated in the chats and bonds formed. I was pleased and amazed at how honest the girls were and extremely moved at how much we all had in common when we wore our hearts on our sleeves.

The last "class" brought tears to our eyes and saying goodbye after just two weeks was difficult, actually downright depressing. We will miss them and the life they brought to our Reading Center every day.

You can read the blog with posts from the girls and all of us here.