Literacy & English Language Acquisition

Our literacy programs for youth and adults and our English Language Acquisition (ESL) program for adults help individuals 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.

English Language Acquisition (ELA)

English Language Acquisition (formerly called English as a Second Language or ESL) 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 ELA 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.

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.

Book Buddies

Book BuddiesBook Buddies is a free program that brings children and volunteers (adults or teens) together to share the joy of reading. It pairs trained volunteers (Big Buddies) with children in Kindergarten through 3rd grades (Little Buddies). For 12 weeks, the Buddies meet once a week for 45 minutes of shared reading.ed reading.

HCPL piloted Book Buddies at our Clear Lake City - County Freeman Branch Library this past spring, and it was a great success. We will be offering the Book Buddies program at Freeman again this fall with adult volunteers as our Big Buddies.

We are also working on expanding the program. This fall, we will be bringing Book Buddies to four new branches - Aldine, Barbara Bush, Baldwin Boettcher, and Northwest - with Teen Volunteers as the Big Buddies.

We plan to expand the Book Buddies program with adult volunteers at more locations in 2017, so please check back for updates and future volunteer opportunities!