Saturday, May 1, 1999

Riverside Public Library

Library goes all out to promote reading
Press-Enterprise: April 11, 1999 by Roberto Hernandez
Author: Roberto Hernandez; The Press-Enterprise

Riverside Public Library organizers used music, lively storytelling and a hedgehog named Gladys Saturday as part of a free program to promote the love of reading in area families at the La Sierra branch.

"Creature Teacher" Robyn Wheeler of Garden Grove, who demonstrated the spiny mammal and assorted reptiles to children, joined dozens of other performers during the Family Literacy Festival that drew more than 500 people. The goal was to help adults share the pages of a storybook with their families to ensure the quality of their communities, library officials said.

"As children read, they're learning as they go to school (and) their learning environment is expanded," literacy coordinator Janet Hoeting said.

Storyteller Mariluna Martin entertained her mostly young audience inside the La Sierra Avenue library with an imaginary fable about Tibet's first dalai lama and a group of talking mice. It is important for children to grow up appreciating books, the Los Angeles woman said.

"Literacy opens up their entire world," Martin said. "That's something that TV cannot give (and) movies aren't going to do it."

The event was also part of "Riverside Reads: A Literacy Challenge," a city program to enlist adults to pledge 1,000 hours of reading aloud to children by National Literacy Day Nov. 1.

"During storytelling we're trying to model the parents on how to read to their children," Hoeting said.

Ventriloquist Rob Hartley got the attention of more than 40 children by sculpting balloon animals in his role of bumbling maintenance man "Jerry." Sidewalk chalk drawing, face painting and sock puppet-making were part of the festival.

The event was also an opportunity to promote the La Sierra library's Adult Literacy Program, which matches volunteer tutors with area residents seeking assistance with basic reading and writing skills using books such as Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Grow" and computers.

"It is the goals of the learner we are trying to achieve and we match the curriculum to their needs," Hoeting said.

The library's message of shared storytelling was part of a tradition shared by Edna Fiero and her 6-year-old daughter, Alyssa.

"She (Alyssa) reads to me at night now," the Riverside woman said. "I don't read to her."

Luis Guzman, who enjoys reading about motorcycles and cars, said literacy is important for his future.

"You can't get a job without reading books," the 13-year-old Riverside boy said.