Cornerstone principles of Berkeley Reads – the city library’s free adult literacy program – are fostering voice and action. A new publication of student writings demonstrates these ideas.
Today 10 authors who gained their skills through Berkeley Reads will be reading their work and signing free copies of “Another Leaf Has Fallen,” the book they wrote, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Berkeley Main Library.
Student Will Wright, who learned to read with an education tool that scans books and reads them back to its user, is one of the contributors. He writes:
People are made of places, they carry with them the remembrance of the places they lived
As if they have a bag of memories, they take with them wherever they go.
Snowy white cotton fields, shotgun houses.
These are my oldest memories with the smell of warm greens, neck bones and hot water corn bread.
Contributors to “Another Leaf has Fallen,” are of various backgrounds and ages. Although it’s not an English as a Second Language (ESL) program, Berkeley Reads caters to pupils from many different nations.
In the book Nepali-born Bijaya Simmons discusses her dream of revisiting her homeland. She also wrote an essay on how computers made it simpler for her to contact her family in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001.
Elsie Blount attends the Small Group roundtable on Monday evenings, at which students share ideas among themselves and with teacher Kristin Papania. Elsie wrote an epigram using the first letters of her name.
Charles Joseph spent many years in the Navy and government service before a work supervisor referred him to Berkeley Reads. Now he turns out powerful poetry. “The Mighty Sea,” details his experience as a young sailor:
Come and go with me,
let us ride upon the bosom
of this angry sea,
Hoping, watching, that some great thought might come to me.
Joseph uses metaphor to describe his journey to literacy, in a story called “The Dungeon of
Darkness.” The “monster that dogged his steps is dead,” he writes, noting that with the help of the program, he's made many gains during the last six years.
Gloria Ashford has been involved in literacy for 14 years, first as a student and now as an outreach coordinator. In her contribution called “My Easter Sunday,” she recounts her Berkeley childhood, full of delightful sights and smells, including Langendorf Bakery's jelly rolls and the now closed jawbreaker factory between Hearst Avenue and Delaware Street in west Berkeley.
Berkeley Reads Director Amy Prevedel said the book documents the students’ progress.
“I think the book is a testament to the process,” Prevedel said. “It's evidence that quality work is being done,” said , who has headed the program for three years. When you actually get a book done, it's evidence that dynamite things are happening. It just represents so much dedication to something higher.”
Five hundred copies of the 84-page collection are available to the public. After tomorrow’s reading Mayor Shirley Dean will give the students certificates.