Stories for toddlers, reading for adults

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A volunteer with the Adult Literacy Reading Program helps a reader improve her reading and writing skills at the Gilroy library.

Who doesn’t like peanut butter and jelly? The children attending Toddler Storytime at Morgan Hill library certainly do. And they all love to sing the song that bears the name of the popular sandwich.
Boulder Creek resident Janyce Geistdorfer brings her grandson, Andy Deleuuw, 2, to the Thursday morning program every week.
“Andy loves the peanut butter and jelly song,” said Geistdorfer, while Andy said his favorite part of storytime is books.
Lewis Sievers, children’s librarian, plays host to over 80 plus children and adults who attend the weekly program.  Recently, they hit a new high with 109 attendees. “Over 100 … I was surprised it got that big,” Sievers said.
Sievers, who also hosts the pre-school storytime, feels the program helps toddler-age children develop their social skills.
“It gives them a good time to socialize with other children, because at that age they might not have a lot of the interaction,” he said. “So this is really important; they’re just starting.”
Sievers incorporates activities and games into the program to match the energy level of the 2- and 3-year-olds.
A Morgan Hill resident and former preschool teacher, Jamie Henthorn attends storytime regularly with her two children, Ellie, 3, and Thomas, 1.
“We’ve been coming since Ellie was about six months old,” Henthorn said. “She loves the music and the songs. I like the finger play that they do.”
Lisa Caratozzolo and her daughters Juliet, 2, and Hazel, 1, are also big fans of storytime.
But the main goal of any storytime is promoting early literacy by introducing books and learning the basics of reading.
“They love it,” said Caratozzolo about her children. “They like the books, and it gives me book ideas.”
Gilroy program helps adults read
The Santa Clara County Library District has offered a reading program since 1985. The program consists of volunteer tutors who teach attendees how to improve reading and writing.
According to Nathalie Jackson, who oversees the Adult Literacy Reading Program in Gilroy and Morgan Hill, feelings of shame are often attached to adults who need reading assistance. For that reason, the Gilroy library offers a private space for tutoring. And Jackson believes that space contributes to the program’s success.
“People love it; it just gives that level of privacy,” she said.
Before being accepted into the program, attendees must meet specific requirements. They must be over 18, a Gilroy or Morgan Hill resident, possess a library card, and read at or below a ninth-grade level. If Jackson determines an individual does not meet all the necessary requirements, she refers them to ESL classes.
“We’re kind of the next step for the ESL students,” she said.
Once the evaluation is completed, the attendees are put on a waiting list. Tutors who’ve attended a six-hour training class are then matched with a learner, who they start working with one on one.
“The minimum commitment is six months, but the average time for a pair is about 13 months,” Jackson said.
Gilroy resident and reading program learner Ana Banuelos felt nervous when she first found out a tutor was available. She feared her tutor would not like her or be able to understand her. But now three months into the program, Banuelos says she “loves it.”
Jackson has seen firsthand the program’s positive results.
“It’s the fear factor that keeps (the learners) away,” she said. “But when they get past this … they are just blown away by their own abilities, because it’s never too late.”
The next training session for tutors is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24. For additional information call (408) 848-5366.
For additional programs and events at the Gilroy and Morgan Hill libraries go to sccl.org/gilroy/ or sccl.org/morganhill/.

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