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 12 weeks, the Buddies meet once a week for 45 minutes of one-on-one shared reading.

Freeman Book Buddies
Book Buddies at Freeman with Adult Volunteers

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

Aldine Book Buddy
Book Buddy at Aldine with Teen Volunteer

We also expanded the program with teen volunteers this fall at four locations: Aldine, Barbara Bush, Baldwin Boettcher, and Northwest. Book Buddies provides teen volunteers with a wonderful leadership opportunity; they become mentors for the Little Buddies and experience firsthand the meaningful impact they can have on their communities.

Northwest Book Buddies
Book Buddies at Northwest with Teen Volunteers

In 2017, we will be offering the Book Buddies program with adult volunteers at Fairbanks, Freeman, Katy, Kingwood, and Octavia Fields. The session runs from February to April. If you are at least 18 years old and interested in volunteering, please fill out the online application. We would love to have you!

If you are a student in 7th - 12th grades and interested in being a Big Buddy at Aldine, Barbara Bush, Baldwin Boettcher, or Northwest, stop by one of those branches for more information. The spring session begins in February 2017, and they will begin accepting applications for that session in December 2016.