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by Literacy Volunteers and Advocates on 08/11/14

Veronica Jackson Bey is excited about the murder mystery she is reading. More than just a pleasant social hour, the summer book club Ms. Jackson Bey attends at Edgewood Terrace is improving her reading skills. 

"It's bringing me up to a higher level of reading," she declares.

LVA's learners were excited when summer book clubs were started to help boost their reading skills over the summer. 

This year, notes Leitha Wilson, Lead Instructor, the effectiveness of the clubs have been bolstered by using books published by Grass Roots Press, a Canadian publisher, specializing in educational resources for adult learners. Instructor Marilyn Lowry recommended Grass Roots Press to LVA. 

LVA's summer book clubs previously concentrated on the classics.While learners were excited reading them, they are finding this year's selections to be particularly meaningful. "Everybody can relate to the themes of the Grass Roots Press books and find their lessons transferable to their everyday lives," says Ms. Wilson. 

On a recent Tuesday morning, Ms. Wilson's class is showing great interest in a book called Play Money written for adult learners who are reading at a basic level. The story focuses on a woman, Terri, whose habitual overuse of credit cards and ATMs is propelling her toward bankruptcy. 

What helps to keep LVA learners turning the pages of Play Money is not just an experience with money that is common to too many Americans, but also that Terri finds herself with two potential suitors, her credit counselor and her friend, Brett, who has also expressed concern about how she handles her money. 

Ms. Wilson's class is learning at several levels.

Not only are they engaged in reading, they are learning about the dangers of overspending and the need for self-discipline regarding finances. Ms. Wilson is pleased that Grass Roots Press books come with downloadable study guides with questions to encourage critical thinking about the lessons of the stories. When Ms. Wilson prods her students to answer questions, she encourages them to do so using complete sentences that fully express their thoughts. 

During her class, Ms. Wilson asks, "What is going on with Terri's control over her money?"

Bernice Johnson responds, "She has not learned to manage her money."

"That's a good answer," says Ms. Wilson with a smile. 

It's not just LVA's Edgewood students who are benefitting from book clubs. Ms. Lowry, whose class at Wardman Court, has been reading The Stalker, a murder mystery. Ms. Lowry reports how energizing her students find the reading and the discussions examining the conflicts experienced by the book's characters which sometimes mirror their own. "We stayed an extra half-hour to finish the book," she recalls. 

Not only are LVA learners enjoying what they have been reading, but Ms. Wilson recalls one woman who find her club's selection so captivating that she asked, 'What can I read when I finish with this book?"

Ms. Wilson adds, "It's the love of reading that we hope to promote. So it is exciting to provide learners with adult-themed materials that they are enjoying." 

LVA is thrilled to announce that two of its learners have 
been featured on NPR (88.5 WAMU) as part of a five-part 
series on Adult Education called Yesterday's Dropouts. The interview can be found by clicking the WAMU link below. We are so proud of our learners and their dedication to literacy.