Saturday, November 30, 1991

Chula Vista Public Library

Dr. Seuss helps meet parents' need to read
San Diego Union: November 16, 1991 by Barbara Fitzsimmons

Patty Testa isn't going to let the Grinch steal this Christmas.

There will be books under the holiday tree at her Imperial Beach home, and she'll be able to read them to her children.

She always wanted to read "Green Eggs and Ham," "The Cat in the Hat" and other Dr. Seuss favorites to Adam, now 5, and Tina, now 9. But until Testa became a student of the Chula Vista Literacy Team (CVLT) a year ago, she didn't have the skill or the confidence.

"Tina was reading better than I was," Testa said. "Her homework was getting so hard I couldn't help her with it."

Testa had made it through the ninth grade without acquiring more than rudimentary reading skills. In the early grades, she was able to "con" her teachers, she said. In the ninth grade, they weren't so easy to fool, so she dropped out.

With help from a CVLT tutor, Testa has raised her reading to an 11th-grade level. Now she's involved in a new CVLT project called the Family Literacy Program. The program is designed to foster a love of reading within families by teaching parents how to read books to their young children.

Meg Schofield, coordinator of adult literacy for CVLT, said the program has two positive aspects. One, it allows adults who have trouble reading to start out with books that are easy and fun. Two, it passes the joy of reading on to children.

With money from a special grant, CVLT buys about $200 worth of children's books for each participating family. The majority of those books are by Dr. Seuss.

"Dr. Seuss is wonderful; he has so much fun with language," Schofield said. "He uses rhyming words, and he repeats words often. He's the king of phonics. He invents words, but they follow the rules of phonics."

In fact, the late Ted Geisel is so loved by local literacy groups that a "Dr. Seuss Tribute" will kick off the "San Diego Reads Best" campaign tomorrow at Balboa Park. The tribute, which will include readings of his books and a song dedicated to the author, who died in September, will run from noon to 2 p.m. at the Organ Pavillion.

Testa's tutor, Lori Thompson, said Dr. Seuss books are ideal early readers because they are colorful and creative with rhythmic sentences and punctuation that is easy to identify.

"Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch. But, if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch. He got stuck only once, for a moment or two. Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue where the little Who stockings all hung in a row. 'These stockings,' he grinned, are the first things to go!' "

Young Adam has just started reading on his own and already knows the ending to "Green Eggs and Ham."

"And I will eat them here and there. Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE! I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you! Sam-I-am!"

Testa said she was frightened and embarrassed when she first asked for help with reading. Now, though, she is pleased to note that reading has become one of her family's favorite activities. She, Tina and Adam are all learning how to use the public library, and she has set some goals that will challenge her new knowledge of reading. First, she wants to get her driver's license; second, she wants to find a job working with computers.

The final paragraphs of Dr. Seuss' "Oh, The Places You'll Go" may be a help.

"And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! (98 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS! So ... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So ... get on your way!"

Escondido Public Library

Escondido books new library plan
Evening Tribune: January 11, 1991 by Vern Griffin

NO ONE TYPIFIES the changes coming to the Escondido City Library System more than "Larry," one of a new wave of library users in the North County.

Larry is in his mid-30s, has a wife and family and holds a responsible job.

He started coming to the downtown library about seven months ago -- but he didn't come to the library to read one of the facility's more than 180,000 books, magazines or newspapers.

He came to learn to read.

Laura Mitchell, the city's new librarian, said "Larry" -- who really is a composite of the 15 persons now enrolled in Escondido's Read/2000 adult literacy program -- is taking part in one of a number of new programs that Escondido is offering as it embarks on a campaign to better serve the community.

"We have a lot of goals aimed at improving our service to the community," said Mitchell, who took over as librarian when Graham Humphrey retired late last year.

"The next couple of years are going to be busy ones."

She said the long-term goals of the library are to increase its materials from the current 1.7-books-per-resident level to three books per resident for the community of more than 100,000 people.

The Escondido library now consists of a 40,000-square-foot building that was built in 1981. Planning has started on the possibility of setting up a branch library system for the city, Mitchell said.

"We've developed a master plan for our future which will be presented to the City Council next month," she said.

"The city is very supportive of improving the quality of services in the community, and I'm optimistic that we're going to achieve our goals."

The Read/2000 adult literacy program is one example of Escondido's far-reaching goals.

It now has 32 tutors, half of them already matched with adults who are learning to read.

The program, funded with $60,000 in Escondido Library Trust Fund money, is part of a statewide literacy effort. It provides one-on-one tutoring and matches adults wanting to increase their reading levels with appropriate tutors, who are volunteers and are certified in a tutor-training program by the San Diego Literacy Network.

"We expect to be able to match 80 to 100 tutors with students before we're at capacity, and are converting space at the library for the study rooms now," said Lori Dubrawka, coordinator for the Escondido program.

"Our tutors and learners come from Fallbrook, Valley Center, Ramona, Pauma Valley, San Marcos and Vista, as well as Escondido."

She said the free literacy program is seeking more tutors as well as learners and that the library is presenting a free training workshop for potential tutors.

The workshops will be held in the Turrentine Room of the Escondido Public Library at 239 South Kalmia St. on Feb. 2 and 9 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, she said.

Dubrawka said Read/2000 is an outgrowth of a volunteer program involving Altrusa Club International, which operates a worldwide literacy network.

But the new adult literacy program is just part of what the Escondido library offers.

The library has computerized its book and reference library, offers a top children's library and is setting up special programs for the deaf, as well as expanding its bilingual materials, programs and staff.

Mitchell said she's a supporter of broadening library materials beyond just books and other publications, and notes that Escondido now has an extensive video film library that includes more than 7,000 titles.

"More than half of these are educational films and theater classics," Mitchell said. "We lend more than 700 videos out a day."

Says the new librarian, "We're doing everything we can to improve the library. We're surveying people who not only use the library, but also ...the non-users to find out what services they would like to see added at the library.

"I feel the library should meet the needs of the largest number of Escondido residents."

Mitchell joined the Escondido library a year and a half ago as Humphrey's assistant. Prior to that, she was with the San Diego County library system for 15 years. She was the regional librarian for North County library branches from Del Mar and Fallbrook to Ramona before coming to the Escondido library.