In just a few hours, a corner of the Luella Merrett Elementary School library was transformed June 19 into a “Reading Oasis.”
Featuring 1,000 new books and kid-friendly furnishings, the new Reading Oasis reading center at Luella Merrett Elementary in Southwest Fort Worth will provide students and their families with hands-on opportunities to improve reading habits. The Rainwater Charitable Foundation underwrote the center, and United Way recruited volunteers from Oncor (shown below) to assemble and arrange the bookshelves, books and furniture. Six more centers will be installed at Tarrant County schools later this summer.
United Way brought the reading center to Tarrant County, which is now the first community in the nation to have a Reading Oasis of this kind that combines a cozy reading environment with online enrichment and activities to engage parents.
Every Reading Oasis will include 1,000 new books, beanbag chairs, a colorful carpet that says “TIME TO READ” and a listening library with a CD player and books on CDs. 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 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.
“We are so excited to have the Reading Oasis at our school. There are so many kids and so many families who love to read but don’t have the resources to do it,” said Luella Merrett Assistant Principal Karelyn Roberts (shown below in the Reading Oasis with daughter Addisen). “We are excited about the opportunity to have our parents come and read with our kids.”
United Way of Tarrant County is committed to advancing literacy year-round as part of the organization’s 10-year Learn Well education initiative.
“A child’s ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade can have a profound impact on their educational development and future,” said Emily Furney, Vice President of Community Development at United Way of Tarrant County. “By participating in the Reading Oasis initiative, we can foster a life-long love of books, with the ultimate goal of improving students’ reading skills to help lay the foundation for future success.”
Additional reading centers will be installed at area schools this summer with the support of sponsors and volunteers enlisted by United Way. The schools and their Reading Oasis sponsors are Bellaire Elementary, Hurst, The Ryan Foundation; Como Elementary, Fort Worth, Cami and John C. Goff; Daggett Middle School, Fort Worth, Pier 1 Imports; Harlean Beal Elementary, Fort Worth, The Lowe Foundation; Lowery Road Elementary, Fort Worth, Basic Energy; and Morningside Elementary, Fort Worth, The Rainwater Charitable Foundation. Jetta Operating Company is also a sponsor.