Some Tutor Tips! Part 1

Update your Learner’s goals

It is critical to check in with your learner periodically to go over their goals. Asking questions to find out what changes they are trying to make in the real world will help your formulate your lesson plans and content. Have you been with your learner for a while? Maybe it is time to reevaluate their goals. All of us have changing and new goals throughout different phases of our lives. Checking in every once in a while helps everyone to make sure we are still headed in the most beneficial direction.

Build a timeline together

Building achievable goals within realistic timelines will set you and your learner up for success. Together you can build a realistic schedule to achieve milestones. It could be finishing a book within one month, filling out a job application before the holiday weekend, or scheduling a meeting with their child’s teacher within the week. Break up larger goals into shorter one to keep the momentum alive.

It is also important to keep goals flexible! Life throws us all kinds of strange curveballs (the last two years have shown us that), so it is vital that we are kind to ourselves when setting expectations.

Visit the Literacy Offices or our YouTube channel for more resources and helpful tips!

Learner Writing: Dream


By: Nancy Hsun-Hui Wu

I like children, so I teach Chinese at a Yulin Chinese school. The children are innocent, lively, and cute. When I see their progress in learning Chinese. I’m filled with happiness!

I hope my students can use Chinese and English more to make friends from Taiwan. I hope that students can get to know their friends by writing letters to their pen pals. Nowadays, computers and electronics are so developed that people rarely write letters.

So I hope that through this course, the children on both sides can improve their second language learning and make good friends from different countries. Of course, I hope my English can improve to help the children on both sides.

The library Literacy program is very good, very helpful to my English study. I want to get feedback. I hope I can volunteer in the library to teach children Chinese and meet friends from my country. I hope my dreams can come true!

Find Nancy’s writing soon in our Fall 2021 Book of Writings: Grow Anytime, Anywhere!

Suggested Reading: The Westing Game

This month the Central Library Literacy Book Club has decided to challenge themselves with an award winning mystery novel, The Westing Game! This clue-riddled book was written by Ellen Raskin and published in 1978. The Westing Game has had a place on our library’s bookshelves ever since!

A bit about the book’s plot: “Sunset Towers is a new apartment building on Lake Michigan, north of Milwaukee and just down the shore from the mansion owned by reclusive self-made millionaire Samuel W. Westing. (Despite its name, Sunset Towers faces east – into the sunrise.) Sam Westing was a wealthy businessman who made his fortune in paper products. He was very patriotic and never smoked, drank, or gambled.

As the story opens, Barney Northrup is selling apartments to a carefully selected group of tenants. After Sam Westing dies, at the beginning of the book, it emerges that most of the tenants are named as heirs in Westing’s will. The will is structured like a puzzle, with the 16 heirs challenged to find the solution. In the will it states that one of his heirs has taken his life. Each of the eight pairs, assigned seemingly at random, is given $10,000 cash and a different set of baffling clues. The pair that solves the mystery of his death will inherit Westing’s entire $200 million fortune and control of his company.”

If you would like more information about Ellen Raskin, her interesting real life inspiration for this work, and a few (major) spoilers, take a look at this incredible comprehensive review from The New Yorker.

Now try your hand at putting these tantalizing puzzle pieces together to figure out who the killer is and who will become the heir to the Westing fortune! Read along with our learners by getting your own copy from the Library Catalog today! And don’t forget to come back and tell us what you thought!

Success! Wine & Words 2022 w/ Kaira Rouda

By: Brittany Laurin-Boland

                We had another wonderful Wine & Words event this year, making eight successful years of fundraising to support Literacy Volunteers at HBPL. On January 22nd of this year, community members gathered for our first virtual Wine & Words to listen to accomplished writer Kaira Rouda answer questions about her incredible life and her latest book, “Somebody’s Home.” The auction that accompanied the night was filled with unique items donated by local businesses and volunteers, and of course, wine, plenty of wine.

                The night started with host Bob Madison, leading a charming repartee with Mrs. Kaira Rouda. She spoke candidly about her life and education that lead to a successful writing career. She also graced attendees by reading an excerpt from her latest suspense novel, “Somebody’s Home.”  Board Member, Kristen Bitgood, had this to say, “The host was extremely engaging and lead a dynamic interview that really helped me know Kaira Rhouda and get excited for her upcoming books.” We thank Kaira for spending the time to share with us her life’s work and to support the effort to spread adult literacy throughout Southern California.

                Throughout the week leading up to the Wine & Words night, people were invited to bid on items generously donated by the community. There were unique and entertaining prizes; A stay in Sedona, spa gift cards, Gulfstream Flight Simulator, wine, and more! We had many excited winners! We are grateful to each and every person who bid on items and donated to Literacy Volunteers – HBPL.

                This successful night, with donations coming in from both the auction and Mrs. Rouda’s interview, allows the staff at the Literacy office to continue to support the growth of literacy amongst adults within the Huntington Beach community and beyond. New materials for tutor training, citizenship classes, English books, and more, can now be purchased because of the generosity of the community, the donators, and Kaira Rouda. Thank you to all who support our mission.

                If you would like to learn more about Mrs. Kaira Rouda and her incredible body of work, visit her website If you are interested in purchasing her latest work, “Somebody’s Home” or any of her other thrilling books please visit And finally, if you would like to support adult literacy in your community please consider donating here.

                Thank you for a wonderful night and we hope to see you in person next year for our 2023 Wine & Words.

– Literacy Volunteers Staff

My First House Flip

By: Kim Doan

I recently took on a project I always wanted to do, but I did not know I’d be doing it during the time of Covid. In only 10 minutes, I decided to purchase a house, remodel, and flip it. 

I started to work on the house the day I signed the papers. In a very short time, I set up the demo crew to work inside changing the floor plan and cleaning up the garden. I was so excited! I became the general contractor, I had to hire people to do different jobs like plumbing, electrical, tile, woodwork, walls, paint, windows, doors, and glass. I got some contractors’ phone numbers from my sister. I had to learn a lot of new terms and city building codes.

Of course I worked there myself every single day from 7:30am to 8 or 10pm on the roll for over three months, and I did as much of the work as I could myself. Covid made everything much harder, because prices increased, shipping was delayed, items were out of stock, and everyone had to wear masks.

I custom-designed all the bathrooms, the kitchen, and two fireplaces. I had the trees removed from the front of my house and made new landscape, and my sister and I staged it ourselves.

 Finally, after a lot of hard work, and a lot of expense, the house was ready to put on the market, and it was a big relief after all my long days of tough work. I was very proud of it!

I had two offers in two days, both over asking price and the sale closed within a month. Even though it was laborious and dirty work, I loved it! I’ll do it again when I have a chance. 

Martha Valencia’s Memories

By Martha

I was born in a small town named La Calera, Jalisco, México, and my most beautiful memories of my childhood are in that small town. I grew up with my parents and my 5 siblings, and we lived in a small house with a room and a kitchen. That means we all slept in the same room. I can’t forget the kitchen, because my mother prepared delicious food there; delicious handmade tortillas on the fire. We had no electricity, we used petroleum lamps, and we didn’t have TV.

Our hobbies were playing hide, jump the rope and things like that. We walked to school, and all the cousins and their parents lived in the same town. We all knew each other and we all went to the same church.

I remember the schoolyard because there was the flag and also I saw the
typical dances for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Many images, smells, and
flavors are in my mind and my heart.

The Day of the Dead in My Pueblo

By Guadalupe Torres

My pueblo is very small but has a very long name, San Diego, la Mesa, Tochimiltcingo, and we celebrate dia de muertos. The day begins on October 28th, and an offering is made to those who were murdered. The offering consist of: a glass of water, fruit, bread, chocolate, mole, candles and flowers that are placed on a table. On the first of November, an offering is made to the children, they are given bread that is made at home and is in the shape of a child, water, sweets, candles and white flowers. November 2nd is All Saints’ Day. Bread is made with the name of the deceased and it is put in the offering along with chocolate, water, mole, bean tamales, fruit, candles and marigold flowers. Photos of the deceased are also posted, and flowers are brought to the pantheon (or cemetery) and graves are adorned.