Friday, May 15, 2015

In celebration of reading and writing for a cause, a Berkeley library becomes a literary café for a day

Tomorrow, I'll be participating in the WriterCoach Connection's seventh annual Read-and-Write-a-Thon. Beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing for 10 consecutive hours, volunteers, students and supporters -- including yours truly -- will share their love of the written and spoken word in the Library at Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley. 

Imagine a library transformed into a literary café ... 

This will be my third Read-and-Write-a-Thon.
At around 9:20 a.m. Saturday morning, I'll be reading from The Children of Willesden Lane, a memoir of music, love and survival, written by Mona Golabek, which became a one-woman play that recently enjoyed a successful run at the Berkeley Rep earlier this year. 

A backstory ...

As many of you know, since 2013, I've been involved with WriterCoach Connection, a non-profit program now in its 15th year. I'm one of more than 700 volunteers working one-on-one with middle- and high-school kids. We are now coaching in 11 schools throughout the East Bay. It's a remarkable program, winning rave reviews from teachers as well from kids. 

This year, I have been working individually with a variety of seventh and eighth grade students at Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley. My students represent a microcosm of the school's student body -- black, white, Asian, Hispanic -- and of the city of Berkeley, too. It has been a uniquely rewarding experience to see my students become more critical thinkers and confident writers.

My goal as a writing coach is simple and straight-forward, yet heartfelt: to help strengthen a student's writing skills and help them develop their ideas. And, through the use of positive encouragement and showing care, I believe I am making a difference in each student's educational development.

We believe all students can discover the power and richness of their own voices and learn to communicate their ideas with clarity, confidence and pride. Most important to me is that WCC gives more than 2,200 students undivided, positive attention, and for many of those students, it's the only time they ever get that from an adult.

In my first Read-and-Write-a-Thon experience,
I read an essay by humorist Calvin Trillin.
This year marks my third year to participate in the Read-and-Write-a-Thon. Two years ago, I read from humorist Calvin Trillin and last year I chose a baseball essay by Roger Angell. The Read-and-Write-a-Thon is our major fundraiser of the year and helps bridges the gap between what the program costs and what we can raise from school budgets and grants. And this is where you can help:

I'm writing to ask if you might support me, our readers, and this wonderful program by sponsoring our Read-and-Write-a-Thon.

If you can help, please go to, click on the Read-and-Write-a-Thon banner, and you'll land on our fundraising page.

Whatever you can give, thank you so much for keeping us going. Those 2,200 kids, my fellow volunteer coaches, and dozens of sainted English teachers thank you, too. 

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