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