Long Beach Public Library's literacy program helps students and families

For almost half her life, Evelyn Pung has worked with her "second teacher," Wheaton Yinn, to improve her reading and math skills.

Yinn, 33, is a learning guide at one of 12 Family Learning Centers operated by Long Beach Public Library. Over the years, he's tutored Evelyn, 9, and seen her grades improve. Evelyn, a fourth-grader, now reads above her grade level.


"She has grown tremendously," Yinn said. "Academically, she has become more independent and able to understand concepts in math, and her reading has improved tremendously."

The Family Learning Centers provide one-on-one tutoring for students in kindergarten through college. Many of the learning guides, including Yinn, are bilingual, making it easier to assist and communicate with students' parents.

Yinn speaks Khmer, and said he has come to see Evelyn's parents, who are Cambodian immigrants, as members of his own extended family, almost like an aunt and uncle.

Evelyn said the Family Learning Center has had a big effect on her academic skills. She said her life would be different if she had never gone to the center.

"My grades would go down," she said. "I would never know what this library could do other than just have books."

Through the generosity of Times readers and a match by the McCormick Foundation, $810,000 was granted to local literacy programs this year as a result of the Los Angeles Times Holiday Campaign.

The Holiday Campaign, part of the Los Angeles Times Family Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund, raises contributions to support established literacy programs run by nonprofit organizations that serve low-income children, adults and families who are reading below grade levels, at risk of illiteracy or who have limited English proficiency.

Donations are tax-deductible as permitted by law and matched at 50 cents on the dollar. Donor information is not traded or published without permission. Donate online at or by calling (800) 518-3975. All gifts will receive a written acknowledgment.