The Miami Area Literacy Council is expanding its programs to help the Hispanic community.

The council now has free materials specially designed to help the Spanish-speaking to learn to read English.

“With nine trained tutors volunteering with the council, we're ready to start,” said Ginny Stinson, reading specialist, with the council.

Stinson stressed that, while the new program is perhaps a “spin-off” of the English as a Second Language program (ESL), it is very different.

“We don't have the materials to teach people how to speak English,” she said.

“Instead, if they can speak English, we will teach them to read English.

The council is beginning searching for students through the Miami Public Schools.

“When I was a principal, I knew that some of the students having trouble learning would improve if only their parents could help them,” Stinson said. “Unfortunately, for many of those students, their parents can't even read.”

Four of the tutors are retired educators who are familiar with the needs of these parents.

“I don't have any doubts about the tutors' abilities to do this,” Stinson said.

While the program is not dedicated to those parents, it is where the council is looking to find its initial students.

Stinson has already visited most of Miami's elementary school principals to explain the new program.

“I wanted the teachers to know that we're not asking for their time or their supplies,” Stinson said. “All we need from them is a reference of parents needing help with reading and we'll help take care of their problem.”

Potential students need to be able to meet with a trained tutor for at least one hour a week in a public place, such as the library or a church.

Those seeking assistance should call the Miami Public Library at 541-2292.