Saturday, December 31, 2005

Escondido Library - Word wizard to help out literacy program

Word wizard to help out literacy program
San Diego Union-Tribune: November 9, 2005 by Pat Sherman

Vocabulary virtuoso and grammar grandmaster Richard Lederer has a term for the condition in which a person transfixed by a radio program is unable to remove himself from his carincarceration.

People who are reluctant to exit their vehicles and enter the supermarket or office during Lederer's weekly show, "A Way With Words," will get a chance to see the Presley of parlance in person. The KPBS host and self-described "verbivore," or one who "devours words," will give a presentation to benefit Escondido Public Library Literacy Services at 7 p.m. tomorrow. The literacy program offers adult language tutoring, bilingual computer classes, a mobile library and other services.

The evening with Lederer is free. Proceeds from the sale of Lederer's books, "Comma Sense: A Fun-damental Guide to Punctuation," "Anguished English" and "The Cunning Linguist" will benefit adult literacy services at the library. Lederer will sign books starting at 6:30 p.m. and again after the one-hour presentation.

Lederer co-hosts "A Way With Words" with etymologist Martha Barnette at noon Saturdays. It is rebroadcast Sundays at 10 a.m.

National Spelling Bee champ Anurag Kashyap of Poway has been a guest on the show. Other young listeners with language conundrums often phone in.

"I think our youngest caller has been about 5, and we get a lot of 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds," Lederer said.

He knows the value of a population who can read and write. According to READ/San Diego, a service of the San Diego Public Library system, 422,000 adults in San Diego County cannot read and write well enough to pursue their professional goals or meet daily needs. There are 2 million native English speakers statewide who are functionally illiterate, according to the National Adult Literacy Survey.

"Literacy is a gateway to reaping the full fruits of our civilization, because books allow us to enter other people's minds and lives and emotions," Lederer said. "If somebody is shut out from that, that's just a terrific shameand it's contagious ...

"An adult becoming literate almost guarantees and assures the next generation in that family or circle being literate, so it's really a multiplier."

During his presentation, the Scripps Ranch resident will have fun with language, while taking a moment to talk about breaking the cycle of illiteracy.

"We fight the good fight for standard English, not that it's superior, but it is more useful when you're trying to communicate with other standard speakers," Lederer said. "We would prefer that people pronounce n-u-c-l-e-a-r correctly. Some people in high places say nuk-u-lar, and we're not in love with it," Lederer said.

Literary Services Coordinator Josephine Jones said the number of people seeking the library's literacy services is on the rise.

"As the high schools are now going through exit exams, what happens to all these kids who can't pass the test?" she asked. "Is it tied to literacy issues? Will we be seeing more of them coming through our door?"

Jones said the program has helped many people learn to read and write.

"Some of the greatest success stories are parents who are now able to read to their children and help them with their homework," she said. "We've had learners who've won awards through the various literacy coalitions throughout the state."

The program currently needs volunteers to help adults on a waiting list, Jones said. For more information, call the literacy hotline at (760) 747-2233 or visit and click on "literacy."

What: Literacy benefit with KPBS host Richard Lederer
When: 7 p.m. tomorrow
Where: Escondido Public Library, 239 S. Kalmia St., Escondido
Cost: Free
Information: (760) 747-2233

Monday, December 19, 2005

Orange Co Library - Sharing the need to read: Bakersfield transplant is booked as a literacy tutor for READ/Orange County

Sharing the need to read: Bakersfield transplant is booked as a literacy tutor for READ/Orange County
Orange County Register: Dec. 16. 2005 by Laura Rico

Local resident Laura Bryan was recently certified as a volunteer literacy tutor for READ/Orange County after completing a 23-hour training course. She currently tutors adult non-native English speakers to become, in the words of the organization "better parents, workers, and community members by gaining English language and literacy skills."

Bryan is currently working towards a master's degree in teaching English as a second language and teaches English to non-native speakers at two local community colleges. A recent arrival to south Orange County, the former Bakersfield resident is enjoying the cultural and employment opportunities that the region has to offer.

Q: Why did you get involved with READ/Orange County?
A. I heard about it through one of my professors at Alliant International in Irvine. I was looking for a way to get involved with the community, I just recently moved her from Bakersfield. I went onto their web site, found out more about them and then went to an information meeting.

Q. What are you studying at Alliant?
A. I am working on my master's degree to teach English as a second language. I have about a year left until I earn my degree.

Q. What did your training at READ/Orange County consist of?
A. I attended training for three Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We worked on group activities and strategies on how to help people learn how to read.

Q. Why was it important for you to get involved as a literacy tutor?
A. I feel that in my life I have been so blessed with education. I have had a lot of opportunities and I have also had a lot of experiences that have shown me that other people have not had those same opportunities. I want to help people work towards their own goals.

Q. Who are you tutoring right now?
A. I have been working with a woman for about a month. English is her second language. She is originally from China. We practice speaking English and reading English. She is really excited and is really a nice woman. It is fun to work with her, she is so appreciative and eager to learn.

Q. Have you learned anything from her?
A. We were talking about Thanksgiving traditions and I asked her about her cultural things in China. She was telling me about the Chinese New Year and the different foods they make, like dumplings. It was difficult for her to describe, but she was trying hard.

Q. Coming from Bakersfield, what are some of the main differences you notice between life in the Central Valley and Orange County?
A. There are a lot more job opportunities down here, it was a lot easier for me to find a job. There are more cultural opportunities down here, I can go to plays or to museums.

Q. What do you do for a living?
A. I teach English as a second language at two different schools, Newton International College and Kaplan at Irvine Valley College. At Newton, most of the students are from Korea or Japan. They are mostly older adults just trying to learn English and help their kids at school. Kaplan students want to go into the university or go back to their countries and do something with English there. A lot of them are from Asia, but I have a student from Turkey, one from Germany and another from the United Arab Emirates.

Q. How has it been to meet people from all over the world?
A. So far it has been really interesting. Some of the students just attend classes for a few months, so I am always meeting new people and getting new perspectives on their lives and their culture.

Q. What do you think your students gain from learning English?
A. It gives them self-confidence. Sometimes they don't need English, they have friends who speak their language and they can get around fine. But they feel more confident when they can do things themselves. It gives them more independence and the confidence of knowing they can learn a new language.

Q. Do you speak any foreign languages?
A. I speak Spanish, and my students teach me a few phrases in Japanese of Korean.

Q. Have you always wanted to teach English? A. I have always wanted to teach, but it took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to teach. I lived in Venezuela and Mexico and taught English there. That's how I got interested in teaching English. When I got back I started taking classes.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Corona Library :: Report claims literacy skills not improved

Report claims literacy skills not improved
Press Enterprise: Dec 15, 2005 by Linda Lou

By looking at the way John Zickefoose reads to children during story time at the Corona Public Library, you would think that he's at home with books -- as natural as a "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish" in water.

But Mr. Z, as he's known to children, didn't read well until he was 35. His 7-year-old son started correcting Zickefoose when he read, which prompted him to enroll in an adult literacy program at the Corona library. Zickefoose is now the library's community liaison.

Today, many adults are still not functionally literate. About 11 million people 16 and older are nonliterate in English; about 30 million people have below-basic literacy skills; and about 63 million people have basic skills, according to a U.S. Department of Education report released Thursday.

The report showed that on average, adult literacy rates have not improved much since 1992. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy report, which was conducted in 2003, found that blacks and Asians are more able to read documents and complete forms than in 1992. Hispanics, however, decreased in being able to do these tasks.

On average, the study also found that women are more literate than men.
And the report showed that people with college and graduate degrees in 2003 had lower literacy skills than their same groups in 1992.

These discoveries on literacy and race, gender and education levels are eye-opening, said Mark Schneider, commissioner of education statistics at the National Center for Education Statistics. NCES is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

These three areas are wakeup calls on what needs to be further examined, he said.


Schneider and other experts say the decline in literacy for Hispanics isn't revealing. They attribute it to demographic changes since 1992. Most Hispanic or Latino immigrants arrive in the United States in their teenage or adult years and don't speak English, Schneider said. The NAAL report shows increases in the numbers of Hispanics and Asians in the nation since 1992.

Census data show that recent generations of immigrants are less educated than previous ones, said Robert Wedgeworth, president and CEO of ProLiteracy Worldwide, based in Syracuse, N.Y. Wedgeworth said the relatively static overall results are alarming. "The suggestion that literacy levels are remaining the same in a world that is changing so rapidly means we are becoming less and less competitive," he said.

But Alayne Sullivan, an associate professor of literacy education at Cal State San Bernardino said that research shows the claims of a national literacy crisis are greatly exaggerated. "We are doing a better and better job, and literacy levels are slowly and steadily going up," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said increases that the report revealed in abilities to read forms and documents among blacks and Asians are positive. "We haven't typically seen those kinds of changes to positive extents for many decades prior to that," she said. "There are reasons to feel uplifted."

The emphasis on literacy has come to the forefront in education in this era of No Child Left Behind and standards-based education, said Diana Blackledge, a Riverside Unified School District assistant superintendent.

The best way to achieve widespread adult literacy is to ensure that every child leaves the K-12 system literate, she said.

Next Steps

Now that a snapshot of adult literacy is available, it shows what needs to be done, said Sharon Darling, founder and president of the National Center for Family Literacy, a worldwide literacy advocate group based in Kentucky.
Literacy efforts should be more focused in the Hispanic community on both parents and children, Darling said. Parents need to be literate to find better jobs and need to be literate to help their children with education, she said.
Sherry Yeh, a Corona parent who emigrated from Taiwan, said she decided to improve her English-language literacy skills about two years ago. She is getting instruction at the Corona Public Library.

Yeh's daughters, who are in elementary school, are getting older and Yeh wants to communicate with their teachers and be on top of their education.
Yeh also said she would like to find an accounting job in the future and needs to be literate. She has seen improvements in her day-to-day life.

"Right now, I can pick up the phone and make a (doctor's) appointment," Yeh said. "Before, I need to ask my husband ... The other day, I took my kids to the dentist. I can fill out the form, but I still need to use dictionary."

Literacy, a Priority

It's more important now than ever to be literate in the 21st century, some say.
Zickefoose, who sits on ProLiteracy Worldwide's board of directors, said 100 years ago, no one would bat an eye if you couldn't read. Just be able to scrawl a signature, he said.

Today, illiteracy is not only a social stigma but affects the quality of life, Zickefoose said. Even with the advance of technology and computers, people need to know how to read to see what's online, he said.

Between 1992 and 2003, many manufacturing jobs have been lost in the United States, while high-tech jobs have risen, Darling said. "It sounds kind of trite, but (literacy) does open the doors for everyone," Blackledge said. "When you're literate, you have access to whichever profession you're interested in."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

San Diego County Library

Librarian wants new programs on the books
Union Tribune: Oct 26, 2005 by Ruth Lepper

Jon Noland is adjusting to his move from the East Coast to a small-town atmosphere. If there is anything he wants to know about Julian, Southern California or the world, he has the information at his fingertips.

Noland is the new librarian at the Julian branch library.
In the past, there has been a branch manager working for the county but not a librarian.

"I'm the first one with a master's degree," said Noland, who holds a degree in library science from the University of Kentucky.

He found the job opening listed on the Internet while working for a library in Florida. His first day at the Julian job was July 1.

"I'm pretty busy adjusting to living 4,000 feet above sea level," he said.
Noland has been meeting a lot of local residents. The library averages 300 visitors a day. Many are from the adjoining schools. The library is on the campus of Julian High School. The junior high and elementary schools are nearby.
Noland wants more people to come to the library.

"We have a very good collection of materials: books, computers, audio books," he said. "But one of the things we need is to have a program to bring people into the library."

That has become his priority: establishing programs that will appeal to children and adults as well as entice families to come together. He especially wants to make the library accessible to youngsters who are home-schooled. At present, a home-schooled group comes once a month.

"There are a lot of home-schoolers in Julian," he said. "There is a need for the library to actively pursue the home-schoolers. They are an important part of the community."

Noland created a program for older people who are uneasy about using a computer. "It's computer instruction mainly for people who have not had access to a computer," he explained.

Twelve computers in the library are available for the public. Noland said there are plans to add six.

A recent project called for teens to record a day in their lives by using disposable cameras provided by the library. They made collages from the photographs taken on a specific day. The works are now on display in the library.

Noland also has added a movie night for teens, at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.
He said he plans to increase the library's magazine subscriptions from five to 80, with special emphasis on publications that appeal to teens.
"We'll have magazines about skateboarding," he said. "We'll have a lot of magazines about sports, health and beauty; those sort of stylish things. We'll also have some anti-establishment point-of-view (magazines) so you don't look at the media and believe everything you read. It's a balanced collection of views of life and culture in this society."

Noland, 60, has started an adult literacy program here. The Friends of Julian Library provides funding for the one-on-one reading sessions.

The Friends group has a room in the library where it sells new and used books. The room is staffed by volunteers and is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Noland's dedication to his work stems from his teenage years and the time he has spent in libraries. "I've been working in a library for over 30 years," he said. "I worked in a library as a teenager and liked it."

Noland will discuss the new programs and plans at the Julian Merchants Association meeting Nov. 16.

The library is at 1850 state Route 78 in Julian. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call (760) 765-0370.

Photo: Jon Noland, Julian's new librarian, came here from Florida and is busy becoming familiar with the town.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hemet Library - Gaining literacy broadens Hemet man's horizon

Gaining literacy broadens Hemet man's horizon
Press-Enterprise: August 20, 2005 by Herbert Atienza

Since Edwin Catte learned to read, many doors of opportunities have opened.

In recent weeks, the 57-year-old Hemet resident received a license to operate a ham radio, allowing him to participate in an activity he has been fascinated with for years.

Also recently, he passed a test allowing him to obtain a food handlers permit, which he needs for his job at the local Wendy's restaurant.

Catte is among the hundreds of adult learners over the years whose lives were changed with help from the Hemet Public Library's Adult Literacy Services Program. The program celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and a number of activities are planned for September, which is National Literacy Awareness Month.

The Hemet program, which receives most of its funding from the California State Library, helps adults gain literacy, either by pairing them with tutors or through self-study with education materials and computer programs. The learners must be at least 16, out of school and speak English.

"It really has changed my life," said Catte, who received a diploma from a high school in Ontario years before, but is first to admit that he just fell through the cracks and never did learn to read in school.

"Literacy affects people's life, health and employability," said Lori Eastman, program coordinator.

She said learning to read lets adult learners engage in activities that other adults take for granted, as well as opens a door that lets them be heard and make informed decisions.

Last year, about 100 adult learners and about 50 volunteer tutors participated in the program, she said.

"I believe that there has to be trust that develops between a learner and a tutor," said Dennis Hatfield, a 67-year-old Hemet resident who has been tutoring Catte for the past year.

"The learners cannot be embarrassed about making mistakes and (tutors) have to admit that they don't know everything," he said.

Hatfield, who retired as a production manager for 3M Co. in St. Paul, Minn., said he has developed a deep respect for adults who seek to become literate because they want to take charge of their lives.

He and Catte meet for a few hours two or three times a week, and they use workbooks that help build vocabulary and reading skills.

They worked intensively in recent months as Catte prepared to take the ham radio licensure test.

Catte said he was inspired to learn to read because he has always been fascinated with ham radio. He said he built his first receiver when he was 16.

"I got tired of listening and wanted to do it myself," he said.

When Catte needed to get a food handlers permit, the two of them studied a booklet with information that food handlers need to know.

Catte said the tutorial sessions with Hatfield let him learn at a comfortable pace.

"He doesn't push me; he has a lot of patience with me," Catte said. "He's become not just a tutor, but a friend."

The Hemet Public Library is planning activities to celebrate National Literacy Awareness Month:

READ-A-THON to mark International Literacy Awareness Day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sept. 8, at the Hemet Public Library, 300 E. Latham Ave.

HOW TO READ ALOUD workshop, 6:30 to 8p.m., Sept. 13, Hemet Public Library Conference Room.

LITERACY AWARENESS FAIR and Adult Literacy Services Open House, 10 a.m. to 2p.m., Sept. 17, 315 E. Latham Ave., Hemet

S-C-R-A-B-B-L-E Tournament, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sept. 21, Hemet Public Library

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ventura Co Library - Literacy gives adult a chance at a life that she'd never had

Literacy gives adult a chance at a life that she'd never had
Ventura County Star: July 1, 2005 by C Cason

Anne Frank spent years in the darkness. The windows of the Amsterdam attic where her family and friends hid from the Nazis were blacked out so passers-by would see no sign of the desperate existence within.

But when fear and depression closed in on the Jewish teen-ager, she would peer out a shattered skylight and hope for a better day, a better world and a better Anne.

Anne chronicled the days in hiding in her now-famous diary, which was published after she died in a Nazi concentration camp a few weeks before it was liberated by Allied forces in March 1945.

Lucy Newman also spent years in darkness. It was darkness imposed on her by a society that did not value her as a person.

Born in rural Mexico in 1958, she was put to work in the fields at age 6. Her father did not believe in sending daughters to school.

To escape his iron rule, she came to Oxnard to take a job as a baby sitter at age 21.

Unable to read or even write her own name in her native Spanish, she had no way to stay in touch with her mother.

"I was angry at myself because I couldn't do things like other people; I felt handicapped," she told me as we chatted recently under a pepper tree at Saticoy School in Ventura.

Soon after coming to the United States, she married a man who forbid her to go to night school to learn to read.

When Newman became a Jehovah's Witness, though, a volunteer taught her a little written Spanish using Bible stories. At least, it was a beginning.

Eventually, her marriage ended, and Newman, by then the mother of two, took a job in maintenance at Edison.

There she met her current husband, James Newman.

She spoke no English. He spoke no Spanish. A pocket Spanish-English dictionary got them over the rough patches.

Thrown into situations with her new husband's English-speaking family, Newman was so determined to learn their language she listened by the hour to English radio stations.

About 10 years ago, her husband contacted the Ventura County Adult Literacy Program to secure a tutor for his wife.

Lucy Newman worked hard during the one-on-one sessions -- this time with the encouragement of her spouse.

"You've got to read, Lucy," her husband told her when she brought home a container of sour cream instead of cottage cheese. Before literacy, she was forced to memorize the appearance of food containers. And mistakes were inevitable.

"I was like a baby learning to walk," she recalled. "I would take a step, tremble and then fall. And get back up again."

But then something happened that slowed her progress to a crawl.

In 1994, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She suffered severe side effects from the chemotherapy, including memory loss. Much of the written English she learned seemed to evaporate.

About the time she had licked the cancer, she discovered to her amazement she was pregnant. She gave birth to a healthy girl, now 9-year-old Janelle.

There were setbacks but also milestones. Newman became a U.S. citizen eight years ago after passing the written test in English.

Patience is a good quality for a driver in Southern California, and Newman has plenty. It took her four hours to complete her written driver's exam.

Every Wednesday these days, she and her volunteer tutor, Neill Robinson, huddle in a classroom at Saticoy School.

Lucy keeps the eraser end of the pencil poised to scratch out the slightest mistake.

She seems terrified to write down anything she finds stupid. If only I had the same good sense.

But a panel of judges found nothing stupid in one of Newman's recent essays.

In April, she was named one of 16 finalists in the California Writer to Writer challenge -- an essay contest for literacy students.

She wrote an open letter to Anne Frank, after sailing through her diary.

"The most important thing I learned from your story," she wrote, "is that to survive a difficult situation it's important to never give up hope.

"I think that you were very brave while being so young. You made me see things differently. Thank you, Anne. You changed my life."

Before reading "Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl," Newman had never known about the Jewish Holocaust -- a chapter of history most of us learn about in school.

Now, she is determined to make up for all lost time. She is working toward computer literacy as well as English literacy at Ventura Adult School. She eventually hopes to earn a high school equivalency diploma and to attend community college.

"Now I can do this. My days of bottles and diapers are over," she said.

After years in darkness, Lucy Newman sees daylight. And you better believe she's going for it.

-- To find out more about free, one-on-one tutoring through the Reading Program for Adults, call 641-4484.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Corona Library :: Literacy as a tool: Library director finds niche in helping folks

Literacy as a tool: Library director finds niche in helping folks
Press Enterprise: July 1, 2005 by Jerry Soifer

Steve Armstrong, a former businessman-turned-librarian, knows about transformations. Armstrong has been a record-store assistant manager, a paint company accountant and a hospital accountant.

Then Armstrong took an interest in literacy, earning a bachelor's degree from the University of La Verne in 1990 and a master's degree two years later. Now, at 47, he's the director of special services for Corona Public Library. He oversees the literacy program, community liaison, outreach office, the heritage room and the library foundation.

He lives in Rancho Cucamonga with his two golden retrievers. "He's really found his niche," said John Zickefoose, Corona's community liaison at the library. "People think of libraries as books. We're far more than that. We're taking care of people. He's really good at that."

On July 16, Armstrong will oversee the transformation of the library into a variety of settings from Agatha Christie's 1934 mystery novel, "Murder on the Orient Express," as part of a fundraising event.

The children's room will become Istanbul, Turkey, where food such as spicy shrimp skewers will be served. The teen area will become Milan, Italy, with appropriate food. The periodicals section will become the Serbian capital of Belgrade with shepherd's bread on the menu.

The community room will take on a Paris theme with mini-cream puffs covered with chocolate sauce being served. Children from the Christian Arts Theater are scheduled to sing and dance.

The event is the first major fundraiser for the library's foundation in its 20-year history, Armstrong said.

Inspired To Help

In 1987, Armstrong saw the made-for-television movie "Bluffing It" starring Dennis Weaver, who kept his inability to read or write a secret. The movie inspired Armstrong to volunteer as a tutor at the Los Angeles County Public Library in La Verne. There he met Irish immigrant William Heeney, a construction worker who never finished school in his native Dublin.

Heeney said in a phone interview that he would often get lost in Southern California because he could not read a map. Heeney, who lives in Alta Loma, also saw the movie, which inspired him to enroll in the Mount San Antonio College literacy program. There he was placed in a class with young people, where he felt out of place.

Heeney, now 43, sought help at the library in La Verne where he met Armstrong. They worked together for five years. "Steve is like a brother to me," said Heeney. "He's one of the best people I've ever met. He did so much for me. I will be forever grateful to the man."

Heeney eventually became a construction foreman. He said he lives in a different world than before. Armstrong said Heeney did a lot for him, inspiring him to go back to college and earn a degree.

Before meeting Heeney, Armstrong preferred work to study. "I liked being self-sufficient, making money, being independent," he said .

Heeney convinced Armstrong he belonged in a library. At the time, Armstrong wasn't happy with his work at a rehabilitation hospital in Pomona. "I was doing a lot of collection work," said Armstrong. "I wanted to help people, not collect money from them."

Armstrong attended Citrus College in Azusa off and on for 13 years before enrolling at the University of La Verne.
He went to work at the Glendora library in 1993 and rose to the position of development and educational services director. Heeney said of Armstrong, "He turned me around more than I turned his life around."

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Palm Springs Library - Volunteers Boost Literacy

Volunteers Boost Literacy
Desert Sun: June 27, 2005 by Jennifer Larson
Jennifer Larson

If you can easily read this sentence, you have an advantage over nearly half the adult population of Riverside County. But pretty soon, you may not have much of an advantage over Sefika Kaya.

Kaya, 26, is a pastry chef at a local hotel, and she is learning to read English under the auspices of the adult literacy tutoring program at Palm Springs Public Library.

Kaya sought out tutoring about three months ago after briefly spending time in a local adult school. Turkish is her first language, but since she wants to become an executive chef one day, she realized she had a lot to learn. "I need to learn this language," she said.

Enter Jennifer Robinson, 28, a graduate student who also works at Rancho Mirage Public Library.

Josette McNary, principal librarian and literacy program coordinator at Palm Springs Public Library, matched the two women together. Now, Kaya and Robinson meet regularly for tutoring sessions. As they have worked through flash cards of vocabulary words and flipped through books, they've become friends, too.

Many of the local branches of the Riverside County Library System have adult literacy programs now. The Palm Springs program is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

All the programs have the same goal: to help adults learn to read - or learn to read better. With reading and writing skills, they will have a better chance at getting a good job and sustaining a higher quality of life for themselves and their families.

The Palm Springs Library program now has about 34 tutors and about 80 students, according to McNary. Some pairs meet once a week, but others meet more frequently, depending on the students' needs.

"What they like here is the one-on-one," McNary said of the students.
Robinson and Kaya love to pore over the library's cookbooks that Kaya picks out for dessert ideas - and to get more reading experience by reading the recipes.

Robinson also prepared a set of flashcards that are attached to a key ring for Kaya so she can flip through, read the words and practice pronouncing them.
Sometimes the words trip her up. For example, Kaya is still having trouble pronouncing the "o" sound in English. "Floor. Flower," Kaya said, trying to make the words sound different. "English is tricky," noted longtime volunteer Sue Sutton, 78. "Just when you say, 'This is the way it always is,' it's 'well, usually.'"

But she tries to make it fun by teaching her students little rhymes about grammar. For example, "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking" to explain how to pronounce words like "receive."

Sutton has been working with her current student, Brenda Galvez, 25, for about a year. Galvez, who is from Mexico, could speak Spanish and English, but she had trouble reading and writing in English, even though she graduated a few years ago from a local high school.

The two have also worked on life skills to help Galvez, who was in a welfare-to-work program, successfully negotiate the work world.

That should be a key component of adult literacy initiatives, according to the National Institute for Literacy, which cites the 1998 Workforce Investment Act's definition of literacy as including the ability to "compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job."

Volunteer tutor Angela Dam, 34, of Palm Springs agreed that it's not enough simply to teach an adult to read. "You want to give them skills to raise their children better, to have better knowledge of the world," she said.

Dam, who also teaches a group of Spanish-speaking women through a parenting program affiliated with the Palm Springs Unified School District, can relate to her students; she had to learn English when she was 9 after moving from Vietnam to Canada.

So she tries to relate her lessons to real-life scenarios. She also came up with the idea of asking her students to write in a journal and practice their newfound English skills. "Since I started doing that, their writing has improved immensely," said Dan. "They're using adjectives, adverbs."

Galvez has already experienced some success on the job front, too, thanks to Sutton's help. She had to take a multiple-choice test for her new job as a courtesy clerk at a local discount department store, and the tutoring sessions helped her develop the skills necessary to do that. (She passed the test.)

Galvez wants her twin daughters, now 2, to learn to speak and read both English and Spanish. "So they won't have the problems I had," she explained.

Robinson is very proud of her pupil, too. "You read the newspaper and you use the library all the time now," she said to Kaya, who smiled over her stack of homework worksheets.

McNary said she's glad to provide an effective avenue for people to learn to read - and speak - English better. Students are tested in English in school, and most good jobs for adults require them to use English. "I think it's vital," she said of the tutoring program. "This is still an English-speaking society."

If you are interested in becoming a tutor for an adult student or want to refer someone for help, try the following agencies:

Palm Springs Public Library's adult literacy program: 322-8369 The Riverside County Library Adult Literacy Program's local office:342-2580. The program serves the following libraries: Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, La Quinta, Lake Tamarisk, Mecca, Palm Desert and Thousand Palms

Friday, March 18, 2005

Huntington Beach Library - James Earl Jones, Verizon, and Literacy

James Earl Jones, Verizon, and Literacy
Sneakeasy’s Joint: Feb 8, 2005

If, like me, you have had the honor, and pleasure, of being in the presence of the great actor James Earl Jones, then you will never, ever, forget it.

The voice, and the personality of the man it belongs to, are a force to be reckoned with.

On Monday he was in Huntington Beach, at the public library, for a worthy cause: Literacy

The library rolled out the red carpet to welcome the Tony-winning, Emmy- and Oscar-nominated actor, who came to Surf City to read to local youth and help bestow a generous grant to the Literary Volunteers of America-Huntington Beach Library.

The $25,000 grant was given by Verizon, during Monday's special event.

Jones has been the company's spokesperson since 2000.

He read a story to a bunch of local elementary school students, and had an important message as well.

"Literacy is now, and was then, the key to freedom," said Jones. "To my forbearers, books were a cherished possession. When I was a child, I stuttered and was illiterate, but I found voices in books. That's how I learned to read," he said.

It seems the Library was one of 18 programs to receive grants.

of reading and writing to adult learners in
California library literacy programs from Santa Barbara to San Diego

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

2005 SCLLN Tutor Conference - Success Guide for the Immigrant Life

Success Guide for the Immigrant Life
Catholic Online
Workshop at the SCLLN Literacy Conference
Jan. 22, 2005 at Cal State, Dominguez Hills

LOS ANGELES—The 6th Annual Southern California Library Literacy Network ( SCLLN ) Conference will be held on Saturday, January 22, 2005 at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Founded in 1984, the SCLLN is an association of about 49 member-libraries in Southern California. Its goal is to strengthen each member-library’s literacy services by sharing resources and expertise in promoting literacy and lifelong learning among the communities the libraries serve. For the sixth year, tutors and learners from the various member libraries have been attending this much awaited annual event. The president of the SCLLN is Rod Williams of the City of Palmdale Public Library.

Among the presenters for this year’s SCLLN conference is Glendale, California-based Monette Adeva Maglaya, author of the book, “The Complete Success Guide for the Immigrant Life: How to Survive, How to Thrive, How to be Fully Alive” and editor of its companion book, “The Immigrant’s Little Quote Book for Success.” The New York Times has called the success guide, “a remarkable new book.” Gary Shteyngart, the Times reviewer admits that “few books have come closer to telling me what it means to be an immigrant in America today.” Libraries across America are finding this book a good reference guide that addresses some of the needs of their immigrant population. Implicit in the book is the Catholic faith-based perspective of the author. The Success Guide workshop is scheduled for 10:55 to 11:55 AM and will address both tutors and learners.

Other presenters in the conference include the head of the Glendale Library Literacy Program, Mary Miller, who will talk on “Tutoring Tips from a New Model”; Lorrie Mathers, “Playing with Poetry”; Rose Saylin and Diane Moseley who will present “Writing for Fun”; Kristine Addicks “Working in the New Year - Job Hunting and Resume Workshop” and many other speakers who will address the many aspects of promoting literacy and lifelong learning in the various communities.

This year’s SCLLN’s keynote speaker during the luncheon will be Reuben Martinez, a well-known and multi-awarded advocate of literacy in Southern California.