Literacy in Our Communities

Reading is the Key to Success

Rotary Clubs in District 5320 have a long tradition of supporting literacy through club projects, school partnerships and book drives. Now more than ever, the help of Rotary Clubs is needed to support the efforts of parents, schools, and libraries to get youngsters proficient at reading by mid-elementary school age, so that they can read to learn starting in the upper elementary grades, if not sooner. Our Rotary Clubs can provide valuable help in the effort to get children to become literate, at the pre-school level and throughout the school years.

It is recommended that a Literacy Chairperson and /or Literacy Committee be established at each club, in order to identify and contact the local libraries and schools whom the club wishes to support.

Contact the Library Branch Manager or Library Director– find out what’s being done there, and ask how the Library Manager or Director thinks your rotary Club could be of help to their literacy programs, in terms of providing resources or volunteers (ie: including High School Interact Club member volunteers). Consider holding a Rotary Club meeting at the Library, including a tour and update of services.

Contact the school(s) in close proximity to where your Rotary Club meets, asking to speak with the Principal. Set up a time to meet briefly with him or her (or their designate) in order for you to give them a brief introduction to your club and ask for tips on how to support their school literacy efforts. Schools with high numbers of lower-income students will sometimes have a Reading Specialist, who could share about the needs of the students and the school.


Book Bags for Moms of Newborns

The Buena Park Rotary Club has distributed cloth drawstring bags with a detailed parenting reference book for the parent plus a board book for the child. These are delivered to local hospitals, to be given to parents of newborns. The emphasis on helping parents to realize how important it is to verbalize and read to their child from Day One. The bags also include information about local school district resources and a parent resource guide. Contact: Dr. Elizabeth Swift – [email protected]

The Read to Me Program

Orange Plaza Rotary has a program that gives book bags and a “Read to Me” T-shirt to children in pre-school programs. In addition, parent resources are included in the book bag. Contact: Teryl Snyder – [email protected]

Book Doctor Program

THINK Together now oversees the projects formerly handled by the Early Literacy Program (ELP) in Orange County. One of their on-going projects is the  Book Doctor Program, which is seeking volunteers who could devote 2-3 hours on a Saturday morning, weekday evening, or after school time, to repairing and cleaning up donated books which will then be distributed to needed sites in Orange County.  Email Julio Robles at [email protected] or call him at 714-824-8634 to make an appointment for a Book Doctor session. At least 10 volunteers would be needed at each session, but more would be appreciated.

Read Across America

This event is sponsored by the National Education Association and takes place at most schools in a day or two each year (usually in March) in commemoration of Dr. Theodore Geisel, who wrote the Dr. Seuss books. Rotarians, Rotaractors, or Interactors can participate as readers in the various classrooms for up to an hour or two. Contact your local schools (public or private) to find out the dates and times, line up volunteers and provide their names to the school(s). Make sure your volunteers know where to come (provide the school address and phone number) and when to be there (preferably ahead of their scheduled time). Schools will provide books to read, or the volunteers may bring their own books.  Have volunteers report to the office on the designated day in order to sign in and receive a visitor’s badge. Last-minute adjustments may sometimes be made in the schedule or assignments, so please be ready to be flexible. To read an article and view pictures about a recent event of this type, see

Book Drives
George Gillespie (pictured) of the Anaheim Hills Rotary Club has a close relationship with Think Together, and has mobilized his Rotary Club to provide books for local classroom libraries. Contact George at [email protected] to find out more.


Rotary International Book Shipping Project: Books for the World
Booklegger LogoThis organization within Rotary collects books year-round and sends them to Southern Africa, India, and areas of the world that are desperately in need of the printed word for schools and libraries. The following description is copied from the website:

Books for the World  ships textbooks, reference books, and library books which are discarded by schools, libraries, and individuals to Rotarian operated distribution facilities in selected developing countries. The criteria for selection are simply need and the ability to clear customs without charge adhering to the ethical principles of Rotary. The containers are purchased and provided to a local Rotary Club overseas as a gift to be converted into a library, classroom. clinics, etc. The reason for purchasing the container is to avoid rental charges while the container is being unloaded by volunteers. Moving and sorting the volume of books in a container can take weeks to months.”

Enriching the lives of Homeless Childrent in OC Childhood Enrichment Program (CEP)

IF_Logo_White:Yellow_VerticalThe Illumination Foundation (IF)  is a non-profit 501 (c) (3), non-denominational, grassroots organization that addresses the crisis of  homelessness in Orange County through integrated services that provide appropriate solutions. One of their services is Literacy in Motel Families: CEP is designed to enrich the homeless children in IF’s Interim Housing Program. CEP volunteers will help empower the children to thrive in a safe, creative, and productive environment, with arts and crafts, games and activities, while at the same time enabling their parents to receive much needed case management and mental health services.


  Every Monday 5:30 -6:30 pm
  Costa Mesa
  Every Wednesday 5:30 – 6:30 pm

To volunteer, please contact: Sheryl Overman at [email protected]


Andy and Elmer Teaching the “Four-Way-Test” to Kids

This book tells a story the young children can enjoy and at the same time learn the Four-Way-Test. Contact the Fairborn Rotary Club for more information. This book fits the California Ed Code for teaching Ethics.





Dictionary Project
Many of District 5320’s Rotary Clubs present dictionaries to children in the third grade at local elementary schools. This is the year students make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. Children need their own dictionaries to be able to develop their writing and reading skills and become resourceful learners. Paperback dictionaries can give all children access to information they need to be successful in school, empower and encourage students to become strong readers. Ordering and information –



Tutors for adult and young learners  are needed at OC Public Libraries. Other volunteer opportunities are also available.

Tutors are volunteers from the community with a passion for helping other adults gain literacy skills. No previous teaching experience is required. Tutors must be:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Able to speak, read, and write English
  • Compassionate and sensitive to the needs of adult learners
  • Prepared to learn new teaching techniques, new ideas, and new experiences!

Tutoring Sites, Materials, and Schedules:

Tutoring is scheduled according to your convenience in a public location anywhere in Orange County. Most pairs meet at their local library. Ten of the 34 OC Public Libraries branches, as well as the city Libraries of Orange and Anaheim, have established literacy centers with private tutoring space, computer access, and an extensive collection of literacy teaching materials.

Orientation and all workshop sessions held at” OC Public Libraries or Administrative Headquarters
1501 E. St. Andrew Place, Santa Ana, CA 92705
Scholastic Literacy Partnerships and Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Programs
Quality Paperbacks at Incredible Savings!
 These two programs allow Rotary Clubs to buy paperback books at terrific prices.
1) Clubs can participate in the Rotary Book Certificate project by purchasing discounted books for their local elementary schools or libraries. This project replaces the Reading by 9 program with streamlined procedures and quicker turn-around times.
More information is available at
2) Clubs can give books to individual students instead of to schools and libraries. The idea is to place books in the hands of students where they can both enjoy them and share them with friends and family.
The 2013 Contact person is Ashely Davis at: 1-800-387-1437 ext. 6209


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