HURST — Bellaire Elementary School Principal Mick Sandoval had an ear-to-ear grin on his face Monday, as his school was getting hundreds of new books for a special Reading Oasis.Bellaire and five other Tarrant County schools with high numbers of economically disadvantaged youngsters are being outfitted with the reading centers over the next three days. “We are so excited that we have people in the community who love and care for us,” Sandoval said.The Reading Oasis centers, separate from school libraries, are being provided by United Way of Tarrant County, local businesses and public charities. Every center will have 1,000 books, beanbag chairs, a carpet that says “Time to Read,” and a listening library with a CD player and books on CD. The idea is to give parents, mentors and volunteers a place to enjoy reading with children and, in turn, promote reading at home, said Emily Furney, vice president of community development for United Way of Tarrant County.“This is really a community partnership,” Furney said. “Our hope is that people will come to read with the children here.”On Monday morning, several workers from Bates Container of North Richland Hills put together plywood bookcases at Bellaire. The sponsor of the project at Bellaire was the Ryan Foundation, a Fort Worth public charity since 1983.Bellaire has more than 700 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. About 93 percent of them are on the free and reduced-price lunch program, Sandoval said.Children in the Reading Oasis program will receive a membership to an online literacy program called United Way Club Connect, which has a national website with celebrity book readings, author interviews, games, videos and suggestions on how kids can get involved in their communities and give back. The five Fort Worth schools that will receive the reading centers are Lowery Road Elementary, Harlean Beal Elementary, Morningside Elementary, Como Elementary and Daggett Middle School.
Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705 Twitter: @yberard