United Way and volunteers from local companies installed “Reading Oasis” reading centers at six schools in four days this month—just in time for the new school year.
A Reading Oasis is a safe, inviting location in a school where families can enjoy reading together, learn how to make reading a habit at home and gain access to books year-round. The Oases took shape August 11 – 14 in elementary and middle schools serving economically-disadvantaged children, thanks to underwriting and time donated by these organizations:
• Bellaire Elementary, Hurst (Reading Oasis Sponsor: The Ryan Foundation; Volunteer Installation Team: Bates Container, pictured below)
• Como Elementary, Fort Worth (Sponsors: Cami and John C. Goff; Volunteer Installation Team: TD Auto Finance)
• Daggett Middle School, Fort Worth (Sponsor and Volunteer Installation Team: Pier 1 Imports)
• Harlean Beal Elementary, Fort Worth (Sponsor: The Lowe Foundation; Volunteer Installation Team: TD Auto Finance, pictured above)
• Lowery Road Elementary, Fort Worth (Sponsor and Volunteer Installation Team: Basic Energy)
• Morningside Elementary, Fort Worth (Sponsor: The Rainwater Charitable Foundation; Volunteer Installation Team: Atmos Energy)
Jetta Operating Company is a contributing sponsor to the Reading Oasis program.
The first Reading Oasis was installed June 19 in the library of Luella Merrett Elementary in Fort Worth. The Rainwater Charitable Foundation provided the underwriting, and volunteers from Oncor assembled and arranged the bookshelves, books and furniture.
United Way brought the reading centers to Tarrant County, which is now the first community in the nation to have Reading Oases of this kind that combine a cozy reading environment with online enrichment and activities to engage parents.
Every Reading Oasis has 1,000 new books, beanbag chairs and a colorful carpet. Every child in the Reading Oasis schools will receive a membership to United Way Club Connect, a national website featuring celebrity book readings, author interviews, games, videos and suggestions on how kids can get involved in their communities and give back. Families also will receive monthly email communications with hundreds of dollars’ worth of coupons from participating organizations such as Scholastic, Mattel, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s and Clorox.
“The Reading Oasis is going to mean everything to our students,” said Dr. Cassandra Surles, principal at Como Elementary School. “A lot of them don’t have access to a lot of reading materials at home, so just to be able to bring more of the community in; more of the parents in to see what our students are doing here and read to the students and have all of the materials here in a cute little place for them to go and share learning with us is exciting.”
“We’re teaching them how to appreciate and take care of books, and how it important it is to read,” she said, “because if you can’t read, you can’t do anything else. That is the foundation.”
More Photos at https://www.flickr.com/UWtarrant