Literacy for English Language Learners

For immigrants seeking to learn English, libraries are often a first point of access to information and services. Recognizing that libraries are uniquely positioned as “safety nets” for English language learners (ELL), ALA has taken on the charge of providing resources—informational to financial—to assist libraries in serving their ELL populations.


  • ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS), in conjunction with ALA’s Office for Research and Statistics and Public Programs Office, offers a toolkit of resources, strategies, and replicable programs for serving English language learners at your library.
  • Funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office and Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, the American Dream Literacy Initiative provides one-time grants of $10,000 to public libraries to expand services for adult English Language Learners and their families. With this funding, 200 libraries to date have built ESOL collections, increased computer access, and provided GED, citizenship, and literacy classes. American Dream libraries create replicable programs, sustainable community coalitions, and resource lists. Resources include a 10-year retrospective report celebrating the many ways that American Dream libraries have transformed lives, strengthened their communities, and advocated tirelessly for lifelong learning. It includes key findings from a multi-year impact study, profiles of grantee libraries, and best practices from across the field.
  • American Dream LibraryThing collection – a searchable database of print and digital resources for adult English language learners
  • REFORMA book list: This collection curated by REFORMA members includes recommended books originally in Spanish, bilingual books, and books translated from English. The titles are arranged by grade level (Pre-K, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and High School).