Wednesday, October 15, 2003

READ/Orange County

National Association of Counties
2003 Acts of Caring Award Winners: Libraries

Stanislaus Co.,CA: Library Home Delivery Services
Orange Co.,CA: Families for Literacy/Smart Start
READ/Orange County Public Library


The Families for Literacy/Smart Start Program is a component of READ/Orange County, the adult literacy services of the Orange County Public Library. READ/OC, begun in 1991, provides no-cost, direct one-to-one and small group tutoring in basic reading, writing, and English skills to non-reading residents in the county.

The Families for Literacy component was instituted in January 1997 to address the intergenerational cycle of illiteracy and provide services to adults who have at least one child under the age of five. One benefit of the program is that adults, by increasing their literacy skills, become more informed community members and more capable to assist their children to gain literacy skills. In June 2001, the family literacy program expanded to include Smart Start, a component that provides direct service to children ages 0 – 5 and the skills necessary to ensure success in school.

Twenty-seven volunteers are involved with the program, working with nearly 500 adults and 350 children. The dollar value of the volunteer time is nearly $75,000.

Literacy skills are so tightly woven into every facet of a person’s life—civic, professional and personal. The program’s emphasis on literacy as a family issue, providing both parent and child with an enhanced awareness of the value of reading, assures a long-term, positive impact on the community.

Contact: Marcia Tungate, Literacy Services Coordinator
Phone: 714/566-3070


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Wednesday, October 1, 2003

READ/San Diego

Bonding with books:
Program tries to help families break cycle of illiteracy
San Diego Union-Tribune: September 14, 2003 by Linda McIntosh

Every week a father met with his reading tutor and brought along his 4-year-old daughter.

"He told me he wanted her to see him doing homework so she would know how important it is," said tutor Jackie Abrams, a co-founder of Friends of READ/San Diego.

The man also told Abrams he never wanted his daughter to be in his situation.

That was more than 10 years ago. He went on to open a business.

"That's what the literacy program is about -- breaking the cycle," Abrams said.

READ/San Diego offers free tutoring for adults to improve their reading and writing.

In addition to the Adult Literacy Program, city and county libraries offer programs to encourage families to read together.

"We tell parents they are their children's first and most important teacher. It's important to read together as a family," said Kim Moore, Families for Literacy assistant.

At a recent Families for Literacy meeting at the Vista branch library, Moore read "Van Gogh's World of Color" and "More Bugs in Boxes" to a group of preschoolers.

Children eagerly answered questions about the books.

Little fingers traced the letter of the day in the air and larger hands helped out. Everyone sounded out "O."

During the 1 1/2-hour program, kids participated in literacy activities and sang songs. Families made color wheels.

At the end of the program, each family took home two free new books to read and keep.

"Some parents came back and told us their kids couldn't put the book down," said Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Families for Literacy coordinator.

Many families come back month after month.

Volunteers also return to help out. Some help with the family literacy programs,and some serve as tutors in the adult learning program.

Tutors generally meet with their students for about 60 to 90 minutes twice a week at a local library.

The initial commitment is six months.

But Abrams does not know anyone who has left after only six months.

"You learn a lot more than you teach," said Abrams, who has served as president of Friends of READ/San Diego since it began 13 years ago to raise money for the literacy programs.

"You gain respect for how hard they work, and they respect you for what you teach," Abrams said.
Tutors are being trained at the Vista branch library, 700 Eucalyptus Ave. For information about the programs and volunteer training, call (619) 527-5475 or (800) 576-1176

Monday, September 1, 2003

READ/Orange County

Locals donate time as literacy tutors
The Orange County Register: August 14, 2003 by Jeffrey Chang

Brean Glenn Rolbiecki spends a few hours every Monday at the James A. Musick Correctional Facility in Irvine, helping inmates learn how to read.

Rolbiecki, 71, is a volunteer tutor for READ/Orange County, an adult literacy service operated through the Orange County Public Library.

Shereen Shoulders, READ/OC volunteer coordinator, said one in four adults -- about 400,000 people in Orange County -- either can't read or reads at a low skill level.

The goal of the program is to educate willing learners and improve their reading, writing and speaking skills, allowing them to prepare for the competitive job market, Shoulders said.

``The focus of our program is to prepare adults for the future,'' she added.

Rolbiecki, a retired truck driver, wanted to give back to the community in his spare time. He learned about READ/OC through his local library. Most tutoring sessions are held at library branches throughout the county.

Volunteer coordinator Bob West said many tutors are motivated by their love of reading.

``Generally, we find that these people enjoy reading, and when they find out how many people can't read they're blown away,'' he said.

La Habra resident and volunteer Viktoria Henry, 58, said, ``I love to read and I really wanted to teach someone so they can love to read.''

Volunteers must go through three hours of orientation with READ/OC staff to determine whether they are suitable to become tutors. Teaching expe rience isn't required but volunteers must understand basic grammar and spelling concepts and be willing to invest the time to teach someone to read. After orientation, volunteers must complete 17 hours of classroom training to learn effective teaching methods, such as using visual aids.

They are then assigned a learner, and after four of five weeks of tutoring, tutors are assessed by READ/OC staff and must complete one last three-hour course before they are certified.

``The training is intense,'' Henry said, but it ``helps you tailor the way you structure the lesson to fit the student's need.''

The core curriculum consists of tutoring sessions, either one-on-one or in small groups, structured around what the learner wants.

Sessions utilize ``all authentic materials used in real life,'' said Shoulders, such as newspapers, books and magazines.

Rolbiecki, who has been a tutor since March, chose to participate in the Working for Inmate Literacy Now program, or WIN. He said this particular component of READ/OC allows him to work one-on-one with inmates, helping them to become more productive members of society. He recently started working with his third learner.

``I'm really enjoying it,'' he said, ``and the inmates really appreciate it.''

WIN provides basic literacy service to pre-screened inmates in the Orange County jail system. WIN tutors don't have additional training but must receive clearance to work in the jails.

Henry works in the Families for Literacy, or FFL, component of READ/OC. FFL involves parents and children in an effort to break the cycle of illiteracy in families. While the tutors do work with the children, the focus is always on adults, said Shoulders.

Henry has been a volunteer literacy tutor for two years and has helped 15 learners.

Another part of the program, English Level Civics, provides English assistance for adult non-native speakers. Tutors provide not only reading skills but teach learners how to gain access to family health care, nutrition and employment skills. ``The program is very focused on literacy because literacy is so essential to be able to move on in society and improve yourself,'' Henry said.

READ/Orange County is a free service offered to adults ages 16 and older who are not in a high-school environment. Residents throughout Orange County are served.

Volunteer literacy tutors must commit to an additional 50 hours of service after being certified. They must also attend two in-service programs throughout the year to maintain their training.

Since the program's inception, more than 1,000 volunteer literacy tutors have been certified and more than 1,500 learners have received help reading. For information, call (714) 566-3070 or visit www.readoc.org .

Riverside County Library

Library event brings parents, kids together to enjoy books
Desert Sun: August 26, 2003 Xochitl Pena

INDIO - With 24 percent of adults in California functioning at the lowest literacy level, reading advocates say it is important to have programs that help instill a love of reading.

At the Indio Library, that is what Victoria Jimenez is trying to do through Family Storytime.

The program runs every other Monday and is intended to instill an enjoyment of reading in parents and their children.

Parents learn techniques on how to read to their children, and children have fun being read to and making crafts.

"It's really important that the families get involved so they can take the experience back home with them," Jimenez said. "The way I engage (children) in the book is what we want parents to experience, so when they sit down and read with their child they can engage their child as well."

Family Storytime will run through December.

Monday's event revolved around a back-to-school theme.

Every child received a free book.

The group talked about going back to school to get the kids excited about staring the new school year.

The next story time will be Sept. 8.

During each event, Jimenez reads about 2 to 3 books, uses finger puppets and ends the evening with crafts.

"I make it really fun, we joke a lot ... but nonetheless it's a learning experience," she said.

Donna McCune, the Indio Library branch manager, said she loves what Jimenez is doing with the program.

"She's been doing a wonderful job. It's been terrific, there has been an increase in the youth coming and using the facility," she said.

The Family Storytime program was made possible through a Families for Literacy grant through the California State Library.

Jimenez runs similar programs in Desert Hot Springs, Thousand Palms and Mecca.

Her Indio program attracts between 40 to 50 parents and children each night.

Children attending range from toddlers to teenagers, she said.

Jimenez encourages parents participating in the Adult Literacy Program to participate in the Family Storytime nights as well.
"The whole family is the focus because we want to break the cycle of illiteracy," she said

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Corona Public Library

First Book gives kids first books:
A Corona-Norco group promotes literacy among low-income preschoolers.
Press-Enterprise: January 25, 2003 by Adriana Chavira

The faces of the preschoolers light up when they flip the crisp pages of each new book they receive every month.

Unlike library books that are eventually returned, these books are theirs for keeps.

"The kids were thrilled when they got them to take home," said Robin Gentry, community assistant at the Norco Head Start state preschool.

About 400 low-income preschoolers in the area are receiving one book a month thanks to the newly formed Corona-Norco First Book local advisory board that raises money and distributes books to promote literacy at a young age.

The local advisory board began about six months ago after Corona resident Warren Wilson read about First Book in a Kiwanis magazine. Wilson, a member of Corona Kiwanis, approached members of Circle City Kiwanis and Norco Kiwanis since their service clubs regularly donate books to children.

Wilson recruited other community volunteers to serve on the 12-member board and help raise money for books for children in Head Start schools at Home Gardens, Garretson and Jefferson elementary schools and at the Riverside Community College Norco campus. Children at the Circle of Hope homeless shelter and other low-income children are also receiving the books each month. The group plans to distribute books at the annual Day of the Child event in April.

"It's something they can't afford," said Wilson, chairman of the local advisory board. "They don't get a chance to have one unless they get it at a rummage sale."

First Book gave the local board 3,000 books for distributions that began in December. Volunteers are seeking donations of $30 a person to supply one child with books for one year, Warren said. The local group can purchase additional books at discount rates from First Book. The members meet the last Monday of the month at Corona United Methodist Church.

First Book began in 1992 to promote literacy among children from low-income families. The Corona-based group is the first in the Inland Empire.

"We try to target programs where 80 percent or more of the children come from low-income families. Those tend to be families that don't have books in their home," said Ingrid Burkett, First Book manager for community development.

Patty Timmons, the Corona Public Library's families for literacy coordinator, already visits many of the poor neighborhoods to distribute free books through a grant program and sees a need for books in their homes.

"We've got families who unfortunately are not living in the best conditions," said Timmons, who serves on the First Book local advisory board. "The kids have no books at home. That's the last thing the parents can buy."

She hopes to give books to about 250 children through the First Book program. That would almost double the number of children the library now serves.

Some of the preschool children, who range in age from 3 to 5, are not yet reading, but the books can spark an interest in reading and encourage them to learn, Gentry said. Parents are encouraged to read to their children at home, and often Riverside Community College students from the Norco campus read to the two Head Start classes.

"We feel they will learn to appreciate and to take care of the books just by the fact that they're theirs," said Ken Minor, a member of the local board and Circle City Kiwanis. "They may just read (the books) and they will read them over and over. Each time they read them ,it will improve their reading skills."