Literacy & English as a Second Language

Harris County Public Library

Our literacy and English as a second language programs help adults with the basic reading and writing and/or spoken English skills they need to reach work, family and personal goals. Our branches provide a place where tutors and students from a variety of cultural and educational backgrounds can meet to share what they have learned.

Adult Literacy

The basic literacy program is designed for adults who speak English fluently and read at a fifth-grade level or below. Students and volunteer tutors meet one-on-one at most branch libraries to work in books provided by the library or on reading and writing skills students would like to apply in their own lives.

Youth Literacy 

Our youth literacy approach encompasses children from birth through 12th grade. We are committed to helping children develop a lifelong love for reading, knowing that this is one of the strongest pathways to a life of meaningful literacy.

Our approach to literacy from birth through age 5
Our purpose is to develop early literacy in children so that they are Kindergarten ready, prepared to learn how to read and to write. Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually read and write, and it is a process that begins in infancy. We recognize that parents and primary caregivers are a child's first and most important teachers. Because of this, our early literacy programming strives to serve families as a whole, understanding that what the adults in child's life do each day prepares them to become a successful reader.

Our approach to literacy for school-aged children
Once children embark on the journey of learning to read and to write, our purpose becomes helping them to sustain a love for reading throughout that process. We offer literacy that is rooted in access, choice, and pleasure; by helping children develop their own internal motivation to read, we help them stay on grade level in reading as well. Additionally, through our summer reading programming, we work to keep students' brains on, fighting the summer slide that occurs for many children between school years.


English as a Second Language

English as a second language tutors and students usually meet in groups of two to eight.  As in the adult literacy program, meetings can take place in the daytime or evening at any location convenient for students and tutors.  It is not necessary for tutors to be able to speak another language.  The library provides materials and training to enable tutors and students to practice reading, writing and speaking the types of words and phrases they are likely to need daily.

We are currently partnering with Harris County Department of Education and piloting a free distance learning program at the Maud Marks Branch Library. Our distance learning ESL program is available for area residents who cannot meet during set class times or who prefer to learn at their own pace. We are planning to expand the DL ESL program to more branches in the near future.

To register for a training session above, or for more information, please call the library or contact the literacy coordinator by email or phone at 713-274-6600.

Please contact your local branch for program availability.