Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

October 24, 2006 > Learning to Read and Write @Your Library

Learning to Read and Write @Your Library

by Sherry Drobner, Write to Read Director, Alameda County Library

Do you read your newspaper daily or weekly?  Do you write email, pay bills, and send notes as a part of your daily routine?  You may have neighbors or co-workers who do not have these same literacy skills.  The library's Write to Read program provides adults with instruction to improve reading and writing skills.  For example, Bruce, a 51 year-old Fremont resident wrote, "I joined the Literacy Program about 5 years ago.  The reason was to become more independent.  A friend of mine knew I was looking for a class to learn how to read and write better. He said he had seen an ad in the newspaper about these free classes for adults offered in your local library.  So this is when I started the Write to Read Program.  I'm glad I did.  I take care of myself, and my mother.  Now, in my life, I have more confidence in myself."
From the very beginning Write to Read creates a supportive learning community for every adult.  New learners meet others at an orientation.  At this first meeting, they hear from a student who has succeeded in the program.  It is important to show success, as learning new literacy skills is not necessarily an easy process.  This is especially true when you are an adult.  According to Rick, a Union City resident, "Being an adult student is a big challenge to a sleeping brain.  My brain has slept for years.  Now it's time to wake it up for retraining.  I hope it's like a sponge picking up and making up what I missed so long ago.  That's a challenge! My concern is will I be able to see an improvement.  I realize this is not an overnight course, but it will take years to make up for a sleeping brain...  I've made big steps by coming forward, so I am determined to wake up my sleeping brain."

Most literacy tutoring takes place in a small group setting with professional instructors and volunteers.  Many students have become peer tutors as well.  In small groups we can build a learning community and create an atmosphere where learning may be fraught with challenges but nevertheless successful.  Students enjoy the small groups.  They say: "By being in small groups and the teachers bringing in different kinds of books to read and write about; I have never done so much reading and writing before and enjoyed it."  Another frequently heard comment is, "At the weekly meetings I looked forward to seeing how the other brains answered the same questions.  I felt at times, "Wow, why did I not see it that way?"  I had an open mind to their answers. "
If someone you know may want to improve their reading and writing skills. For more information contact Write to Read and (510) 745-1480 or visit our website at
Database of the Month:  Social Studies Fact Cards
By Gail Orwig, Booklegger Director/Children's Librarian, Fremont Main Library
(Go to:>Kids>Homework Help>Encyclopedias and Other Special On-Line Information Services>Social Studies Fact Cards On-Line)

One of the nifty on-line encyclopedias offered to students grades 4 and up on Kids Place is the Social Studies Fact Cards On-Line encyclopedia. (  Divided into three sections (each with its own graphic heading), you will find California Fact Cards, U.S. Fact Cards, and World Fact Cards. These on-line cards offer the sort of information students are required to find when researching these topics. Let's take a look and see what is listed under each section, and then we will highlight a topic from each.

California Fact Cards include Indians (Native American peoples), Explorers, Missions and Mission Life, Ranchos, Governors, Counties, and History by Decades. If you click on "Indians" you will get a list of 49 Native American groups indigenous to California. A map is provided so that you can see where each group lived at a glance.  Individual listings of peoples include location, language, population, settlements, houses, food, clothing, tools, trade and ceremonies pertaining to that group.

U.S. Fact Cards lists States, Presidents, Texas Indians, and Northeast Indians. Presidential facts (under "Presidents") include when and where the Presidents were born, tenure in office, ancestry, religion, important dates and interesting tidbits. A small photo of each President is provided.

World Fact Cards encompasses Countries, Religions, Wonders and Early Civilizations. The overall section on "Wonders" comes with an introduction. "Wonders" include Ancient World, Early Europe and the Mediterranean, Early Eastern World and Early Western World (there is a list of "Wonders" under each region.) "Wonder" facts include when it was created, who created it, why and how the "Wonder" was built, the people that lived there, today's view, and fascinating facts.  Each "Wonder" comes complete with a black and white drawing, and a map showing where "Wonder" is located.

Social Studies Fact Cards On-Line information is printable, so if you are looking for facts on any of the above topics, this is the online resource for you!  You'll need a library card to get to this from outside the library.  If you don't have one, go to, and click on the Get a Library Card link under the Using Your Library heading.  Print out a copy of the registration form and bring it with you to any Alameda County Library branch with some identification showing your name and current address. 

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