lit·er·a·cy [ líttərəssee, líttrəssee ]

noun        Definition:

  1. ability to read and write: the ability to read and write to a competent level
  2. skill in particular subject: knowledge of or competence in a subject or area of activity
  • computer literacy
  • mathematical literacy

Literacy opportunities for clubs:

Book Buddies

book-buddy3001Book Buddies is a wonderful alternative to handing out Dictionaries to our local schools each year!

Book Buddies is the equivalent of a pen pal but with books.

  • Individualized
  • Grade/reading level appropriate
  • Can be targeted to the child’s interests
  • Involves the parents and/or Rotarian
  • Continues throughout the year
  • Can be carried out on a club or individual level

To get started a club contacts their local elementary school and explains the program getting the Principal and a teacher/teachers to buy into the program. Once children are selected to participate on the teacher’s recommendation, a letter is sent home to the parents indicating their child has been selected to participate in the program. Ideally, a Rotarian will meet with the student and read aloud to the student in a book of the child’s choice once a week. I find it works best when the child and the Rotarian take turns reading aloud. Once a book is finished, you can choose to give the book to the child to take home or you could donate it to the school library. One advantage of giving the book to the student to take home, he/she can continue to read and ask their parent/s to read with them as you have been doing. If you and the student read one book a month, you can readily see the student’s progress and it will require less than one hour per week. Should you be unable to meet with the child for reading sessions, you can still develop a wonderful relationship with a child by first identifying the types of books the child likes to read and then sending an appropriate new book to the student through the mail each month. The teacher will explain that they should get their parents to read the book with them and that the student should respond, thanking you for the book.

I will have reading lists available for each grade level offering suggestions of titles you or the student could select. The cost will be far less than the cost of a dictionary as we are able to purchase new books for $.99 -$3.99. I have copies of letters in both English and Spanish that could be sent to the parents indicating their child’s selection to participate in the program.

Questions? Need more information? Contact John Bernardin, District 5160 Literacy Chair, at: or at 510-223-8274.

Help add a new member nation to the family of Rotary

When we think of membership, we usually think of adding members to our own club. But, just think how great it would be to add the possibility of an entire new nation to the membership of the Rotary family! When Vietnam was taken over by the communists in the late 1970’s, Rotary was asked to leave the country. Since then, many have tried to reestablish Rotary there and many humanitaritan projects have benefited the people of Vietnam. Now we have the real possibility of reestablishing Rotary in Hanoi. PDG Danny Low and I have secured an agreement with the National Library of Vietnam to jointly sponsor a Literacy project. The National Library has agreed to provide a room in the Library, the high-speed internet connection, desks, staff and maintenance. Rotary will provide a 10 workstation license to CALS and training of their staff. The cost of this endeavor is $17,750.

We need your help! No contribution is too small and if we all join in this effort, we’ll have the Literacy project going before then end of this Rotary year. If only ½ of the clubs in District contributed $525 we would reach our goal. This is a wonderful opportunity to grow Rotary’s membership worldwide and it would make a great International Service project! For more information, contact John Bernardin, District 5160 Literacy Chair at:

Contact John Bernardin ( for more details.

Start a CALs program at your local school

Every club has the possibility of starting a CALS program at their local school. Most of our schools have children who cannot read at their grade level and the CALS program is a proven program that will bring them to their grade level in reading in less than 1 year. Rotary International, through an agreement with School Specialties can make the program available to Rotary clubs for just $80 per student. Imagine increasing a student’s reading ability up to their grade level for just $80!

Contact John Bernardin ( for more details.