Monday, October 15, 2001

READ/Orange County

2001 Acts of Caring Award Winners: Libraries

Orange County, California: READ/Orange County (Orange County Public Library)

In 1991, READ/Orange County (READ/OC) was created to provide an array of literacy services to individuals with low-level English skills and non-reading residents of the county. Trained volunteer tutors provide one-on-one and small group tutoring in basic reading, writing and English skills, so that individuals are more employable, more informed, and able to achieve goals such as getting a driver’s license or completing their GED.

In 1997, READ/OC started the Families for Literacy component to deal with the issue of intergenerational cycle of illiteracy. Children whose parents are functionally illiterate are twice as likely to be illiterate and also more likely to drop out of the school system. Volunteer tutors, therefore, work with parents and children so that parents learn how to communicate with and be involved in their children’s education, and children learn school readiness skills prior to beginning school.

READ/OC tutors also work with inmates in the five Orange County jail facilities to improve literacy skills and encourage detainees to continue their education after their release or transfer from prison. The benefits of READ/OC extend to all residents of Orange County because literacy levels have a direct impact on every aspect of society.

Literacy skills enable learners to become more effective citizens who can vote, better participate in their children’s education and adapt to the changing demands of the workplace. Since the inception of the program, volunteers have contributed 80,000+ hours of tutoring and an additional 82,000+ hours in talent and support services. Two READ/OC volunteers and the Literacy Services Coordinator have received Congressional Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Services.

Donate to SCLLN
Give the gift of reading and writing to adult learners
in library literacy programs from Santa Barbara to San Diego

Monday, October 1, 2001

Riverside County Library

Libraries stress literacy's importance:
They offer an array of programs for children and adults.
Press-EnterpriseL September 25, 2001 by Marilee Reyes

Without the ability to read adequately, daily living is full of obstacles.

For children, schoolwork is next to impossible. For adults, applying for a job, taking a test for a driver's license or reading the instructions on a bottle of cough medicine can be a nerve-wracking challenge.

According to Paula Owen, former branch manager at the Valle Vista Library, there are many reasons people can't read or have difficulty doing so. Sometimes the problem is physical, such as optical or neurological conditions that hamper learning. In these cases, special steps need to be taken by the person affected to try to correct the problem, Owen said.

Libraries offer numerous programs to help children and adults learn to read, she said.

Usually with adults, their inability to read or to read adequately was never addressed when they were in school, Owen said. An adult who can't read also has to deal with the embarrassment of not reading and often is too uncomfortable to ask for help to learn.

Help is confidential

One of the reasons the library tutoring programs are confidentiality-based is to encourage more adults to take advantage of the free tutoring programs, according to area literacy workers.

The Riverside County Library System branches in Valle Vista and San Jacinto and the city-run Hemet Public Library offer programs such as Families For Literacy and Adult Literacy.

At the Valle Vista branch, a phonics-based program for school-age children, Read at Last, began earlier this month. Offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., it includes tutors.

Dawn Wasley, acting branch manager, said that after an initial interview to determine a child's needs, the student meets with the tutor three times a week for at least 20 minutes for four to eight weeks. There is no charge, but an appointment schedule is required. In addition, homework help is also available.

Sharon Aguagenti, branch manager at the San Jacinto Library, said the branch is putting together a program called Project Dream in conjunction with the San Jacinto Unified School District. It is expected to begin in November.

Aguagenti said students will be referred to the library after an evaluation using school district testing. The library will train the volunteer tutors and coordinate the program.

Nancy Johnson supervises the Families for Literacy and the Please Read To Me programs at the Hemet library. Please Read To Me is designed to encourage new parents to read to their babies.

"We want parents to know how important it is to read to their children from this very early age," Johnson said.

Please Read To Me is open to parents and infants born since May. The parent enrolls at the library and receives a tote bag, book and information on how to read to a child. Every six months they get an incentive gift. When the child turns 3, he or she receives a special invitation to attend the preschool story hour.

"Of course, preschool story time is a long-standing tradition," Johnson said. The program, which begins Oct. 4 at 10:30 a.m., will be conducted in eight-week segments.

Breaking non-reading cycles

Laurie Eastman, Riverside County coordinator of Families for Literacy for the county, said that ordinarily the parent is a child's first teacher.

"If they can't read, they're not modeling to their children," Eastman said. That continues the cycle of generations of non-readers, she said.

Families for Literacy is available at each library to families with preschool-age children. The parents are helped with their reading and they are given books to take home and read with their child.
"The whole point is to have the child to sit on your lap while you read," Eastman said. "And if you start with this from birth, holding your child on your lap when you read, you create a special bond, a closeness. You're teaching them a love of reading."

Hemet Public Library

Area libraries plan for literacy month
Press-Enterprise: September 25, 2001 by Julie Farren & Marilee Reyes

September is International Literacy Month, during which libraries across the nation emphasize special reading programs for adults and children who have reading problems.

At the same time that schools are back in session, libraries also resume their yearly programs.

The three libraries that serve the San Jacinto and Hemet area are Valle Vista and San Jacinto, both county branches, and Hemet Public Library, a city facility. All offer various literacy programs.

Government statistics have shown that one in five adults in Riverside County cannot read and write well enough to fill out a job application unassisted, said Melodie Earickson, literacy site supervisor for the Library Adult Literacy Program, Southwestern Riverside County.

Among the programs offered countywide are adult tutoring and Families For Literacy. Several libraries have individual programs: Valle Vista Library is beginning Read at Last for school-age children; San Jacinto Library will start Project Dream in November in conjunction with the San Jacinto School District; Hemet Public Library has Please Read to Me for parents with infants.

The Adult Tutoring Program, Read at Last and Project Dream require volunteer tutors to meet the need. A volunteer need not have a professional background. Training is provided.

The library coordinates the tutoring schedule to accommodate both tutor and student and the coordinator is available to advise the tutor and provide on-going evaluation.

For information about Hemet Library programs call (909) 765-2440; for San Jacinto Library call (909) 654-8635; for Valle Vista Library call (909) 926-2611.