Sacramento Public Library

Adult Literacy


Why are Adult Literacy Tutors so important?

  • Among them are an estimated 36 million adults in the United States who can’t read beyond the fourth-grade level. (Source: Proliteracy)
  • More than 23% or 4.5 million of adults who can’t read beyond the fourth-grade level are Californians. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics)
  • According to the U.S. Department of Education, 6,151,072 adults or 16% of the total California state population are adults without a high school credential. (Source: U.S. Department of Education)

Adult Literacy learner Steve Tafoya describes the impact of low literacy on his life, and the progress he's made with his volunteer tutor, Anna Ramirez. Recently, Tafoya was chosen by California Library Literacy Services to be one of the faces of a campaign celebrating the 30th anniversary of statewide literacy services. When Tafoya walked through the doors of the Southgate Library in February 2012, he couldn’t read above a second-grade level. Today, after many hours of dedicated work with his tutor, his reading has improved so much that he’s in his fourth semester of classes at Sacramento City College.

Read the Governor of California's Literacy Awareness Month Proclamation.

How do I become a tutor?
Consider being a tutor if you are 18 or older, able to read, speak English clearly and are willing to:
  • Tutor at least once a week
  • Attend one 8-hour tutor workshop for certification in The Laubach Way to Reading and other research-based adult reading series.
  • Participate in workshops offered during the year to reinforce and expand your tutoring skills.
Literacy staff provides assistance and support as learners progress through the program.


I know an adult who wants to learn to read. How do I help them get started?
Call us if he or she is 18 or older, able to speak English and willing to:
  • Meet with a volunteer tutor each week.
  • Remain in the program for a minimum of six months or until his or her specific goals have been met.

I want to volunteer. How much time will I spend tutoring?
After completing training, tutors volunteer their time for 1½ to 2 hours once or twice a week.
Is there a fee for training materials?
Basic materials for tutor and learner are provided at no charge.
Where does tutoring take place?
Tutoring space is available at most library locations along with several other public sites.
When are the certification workshops?
Workshops are scheduled throughout the year as needed. Contact the Literacy Coordinator to sign up for the next workshop.

Resources for Tutors

  • Professional Development
    • Watch a webinar by Kathy St. John of the federal Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) on “Digging into Reading with Adults: The 4 Components of Reading.” (1.5 hrs.) This is an excellent introduction to the current research on teaching reading to adults.
    • Watch a webinar by Jayme Adelson-Goldstein, author of the Oxford Picture Dictionary, Step Forward ESL textbook series, and other ESL texts, on “Strategies for Sanity and Success in Learner-Centered Instruction.” (1.5 hrs.) This webinar will give you lots of ideas and strategies for planning your tutoring sessions with the learner’s needs in the forefront.



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Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00-5:00 p.m.

The Adult Literacy program was established in 1984 with a grant from the California State Library.
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