Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Posts by Elaine Sohn

Diary of a Volunteer at the Aguilar Adult Learning Center

A guest post by Leslie Gilstrap.

Some people are surprised to learn that adults don't know how to read. "How can this be?", they ask. How is it possible that someone can hold down a job or take care of a family if he or she doesn't know how to read? How does he travel on subways and buses, shop for groceries or visit a doctor's office without knowing what all of the signs, advertisements and paper forms mean?

Read More ›

Back to Basics: Letter Writing at the Aguilar Adult Learning Center

At the Aguilar Adult Learning Center, ESOL students are getting to know other students from around the city! They are pen pals with students in one ESOL evening class at CUNY's City Tech Adult Learning Center in Brooklyn.

Our ESOL students introduced themselves to Jay Klokker's students at City Tech in short handwritten letters and within a few days, City Tech's students had their replies out in the mail back to Aguilar!

More than 20 pairs of pen 

... Read More ›

Poetry Fest at the Aguilar Center for Reading and Writing

If you think of poems as flowers, then the Aguilar Poetry Fest was an exercise in charming cross-pollination. Sharing was the thing. Students were seated in groups of about 6, where they read their chosen poems to each other and then intermixed with other tables to multiply the fun. Poets included Langston Hughes,

... Read More ›

The Holiday Pen Pal Party

After three months of writing letters back and forth, Aguilar Library students and CUNY's City Tech students met one another at the holiday pen pal party at City Tech on Wednesday, December 14, 2011. Students from both sites were excited to meet each other and find out more about their new friend! Traveling from 110th Street on the East Side, Aguilar Library students and their  

... Read More ›

Pen Pals are Wonderful New Friends!

Students at Aguilar Library's Center for Reading and Writing are getting to know other students from around the city! They are pen pals with students in one ESOL evening class at CUNY's City Tech Adult Learning Center in Brooklyn.

Jay Klokker's students at City Tech introduced themselves to Aguilar Library's CRW students in short handwritten letters and within a week, Aguilar Library's CRW students had their replies out in the mail back to 

... Read More ›

Digital Photography at Aguilar Library's Center for Reading and Writing!

Learning to write through photography is one of the goals of Sol Aramendi, a photographer/educator who is currently leading a nine week "Literacy through Photography" class at Aguilar Library's Center for Reading and Writing.

A New York based Argentinean educator and artist who strongly believes in art education as a tool to create a dialogue of understanding and social justice, Aramendi will be working with 15 adult learners who signed up for a series of Friday workshops.

Students will write about their dreams 

... Read More ›

Aguilar CRW Opens with a Bang!

The Fall Cycle started at Aguilar Library's Center for Reading and Writing (CRW) on September 12, 2011! Thirty new students and six new tutors joined the excitement and will spend the next 12 weeks working together — reading, writing, and challenging themselves along the way.  

New students spent eight hours in orientation learning the ropes: discussing their goals, learning what makes a good student, learning what makes a good tutor, and sharing their expectations 

... Read More ›

Aguilar Center for Reading and Writing Holiday Celebration

A group of Saturday Literacy students with their tutor, Cynthia (wearing a scarf) and Eric, the son of one of the students.Better than vanilla ice cream! That’s what one student said in her reading at the Aguilar Center for Reading and Writing Learning Celebration on Thursday, December 8th. The student read her story about things she was thankful for—and the Aguilar CRW was right up there, better than vanilla ice cream. Other students shared their emotions about being a single 

... Read More ›

Thank You, Aguilar Volunteer Tutors

The NYPL's Centers for Reading and Writing have served thousands of New Yorkers over the years - making some adults genuinely literate for the first time in their lives and improving literacy skills for many others.

In every case, a volunteer did the "heavy lifting."

Every pair—approximately half of the teaching is one-on-one—and every group has its own dynamic and its own priceless stories, but this one is very fresh in my mind.

At the Aguilar Center for 

... Read More ›

Writing through the Lens: Exhibition and Reception for Students

Harlem and Aguilar CRW students gathered at the Zora Neale Hurston Room of the Harlem Library on Friday May 28 for their debut as budding photographers of the CRWs of the NYPL. Students browsed the exhibit before guests arrived and were thrilled to see their photos mounted on the exhibit wall of the immense community room.

During the program, Site Advisors, Steven Mahoney (Harlem) and Elaine Sohn (Aguilar) explained the project 

... Read More ›

Writing Through the Lens: Special Objects

Students in the CRW Photography Workshop brought in objects which held personal significance for them. We spent some time writing about these objects and then went into the garden to take some portraits of each other posed with our special objects.

Marwlee wrote about African clothes, which she loves because you can wear them for church, school, job interviews and parties.

Elton brought in a silver dollar which belonged to his little sister. He wrote that his mother gave it to him forty-one years 

... Read More ›

Literacy in the Arts: Portraits & Dreams

Students in the CRW Photography workshop browsed the Groana Melendez Family Work Series of portraits photographed in the Dominican Republic and in New York.  The exhibit is on the Mezannine of the Aguilar Library and can be seen there until September 7, 2010.  It is presented by En Foco's Touring Gallery which features presentations by emerging photographers in community spaces throughout New York City. En Foco's mission is to 

... Read More ›

Literacy in the Arts: the Museum

A class field trip to El Museo del Barrio inspires the students' creativity.

Read More ›

CRW Students Share Their Stories for Immigrant Heritage Week

In honor of Immigrant Heritage Week, students at 3 of the Centers for Reading and Writing spent the day at Mid-Manhattan Library recording their personal stories with Storycorps, a national oral history project, started 8 years ago. 

Jahara Drammeh (Aguilar CRW student), John, the Storycorps facilitator, and Steven Kopstein, (Aguilar Tutor) chatting before the interview 

... Read More ›

Literacy in the Arts: Dreams

This past Friday, the group shared their dreams in front of the class. They shared dreams that they had during sleep, as well as those that they hope to achieve.

One student shared her dream of moving into an apartment in Croton Falls, a small city north of Manhattan reachable by train. Sol then explored with the class how one might represent her dream with a photograph without photographing a person. Some students answered, "a train," another said, "an apartment."

Sol offered another alternative—the metaphor. She explained what a 

... Read More ›

Literacy in the Arts: Portraits

What a portrait can tell us? by Judith Aisen

Billy said that portraits “portray” things about people and Keith said they give you a little history.  We shared written “portraits” of friends and relatives but some of our liveliest conversations were inspired by a film about the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson who spoke about working quietly, like a cat, to capture people in their own habitat.  We talked about HC-B trying to, “put the camera between the skin of a person and 

... Read More ›

Literacy in the Arts: Family Albums

We brought in photos from our family album.  We observed the different attributes of a photo, such as setting, background, light and subject.  We wrote about the family photo and shared it with the class.  Photography lets us remember the good moments and brings us wonderful memories!

Read More ›

Literacy in the Arts: Photography Workshop at Centers for Reading and Writing

"Smile! I want to take your portrait...It's too dark over here.... Is this a stolen portrait?" were some of the comments heard on Friday, March 26 at the Aguilar Branch when adult students from Aguilar and Harlem Centers for Reading and Writing rose from their seats to show off what they had just learned about portraits: consider the mood, the setting, the lighting, the point of view and the subject!

For the next 10 weeks, these lucky 20 students will be part of the 

... Read More ›

Chat with a librarian now