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 Buddies

Book 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 10 weeks, the Buddies meet once a week in the afternoon for 45 minutes of one-on-one shared reading.

Our fall 2016 cycle has just concluded at five branch locations. The next cycle is in spring 2017 and will run from February to April at nine branch locations. 

Locations offering Book Buddies with teen volunteers in the spring 2017 cycle: Aldine, Baldwin Boettcher, Barbara Bush, and Northwest. If you are in 7th-12th grades and interested in applying to become a Big Buddy, stop by one of those branches to pick up an application or to find out more information. If you have a child in K-3rd grades who you want to help develop a love of reading, please also stop by one of those branches to pick up a Little Buddy application!

Locations offering Book Buddies with adult volunteers in the spring 2017 cycle: Fairbanks, Freeman, Katy, Kingwood, and Octavia Fields. Our adult volunteer online application is closed for the next cycle of Book Buddies, but if you would like to be notified when it is available again for the fall 2017 cycle, please fill out our Interest Form. We are, however, still accepting applications for Little Buddies. If you have a child in K-3rd grades who you want to help develop a love of reading, please stop by one of those branches to pick up a Little Buddy application!