OKC VeloCity | ReadOKC launches new ways to improve literacy

ReadOKC launches new ways to improve literacy

By Chamber Staff / Inside OKC / August 23, 2018

ReadOKC is working to place more than 100 "Little Free Libraries" like the one pictured above in public gathering spaces. 

ReadOKC, an initiative of the Oklahoma City Schools Compact, is launching two new ways for the Oklahoma City community to encourage the love of reading in students. In addition to the reading challenges ReadOKC hosts during school breaks throughout the year, ReadOKC is working to improve access to reading for all children in Oklahoma City by placing “Little Free Libraries” throughout the community.

A Little Free Library operates on a take-a-book, leave-a-book basis, and ReadOKC is working to place more than 100 of these libraries in public gathering spaces. Specifically, ReadOKC is focusing on providing more access to books outside of elementary schools and in public parks.

Local businesses and organizations can champion a Little Free Library by providing a one-time donation of $750 for the purchase and installation of the library. Local partners can also steward a library by checking on the library on a bi-weekly basis and stocking it with books as needed.

ReadOKC is also recruiting adults to serve as “Reading Buddies” to students throughout the district. Volunteers sign up to spend about one hour per week reading with OKCPS students, working to improve reading skills and overall attitudes towards reading. Reading Buddies spend consistent time with students to increase self-esteem, foster self-motivation and promote responsibility.

“Focusing on celebrating reading through reading challenges at schools, providing access to reading materials to all children and working to expand the number of caring adults working with our kids is a multi-faceted approach to developing a culture of reading in OKCPS and our community,” said Mary Mélon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and chair of the ReadOKC committee. “We know we are making positive gains and look forward to sharing results over time. A child who loves to read has the world at his/her fingertips and will be much more successful in school and life.”

ReadOKC recently completed its second summer reading program and fourth reading challenge total. The initiative challenged OKCPS elementary students to read 20 minutes a day during summer break, for a total cumulative goal of 1 million minutes read throughout the summer. By focusing on reading during school breaks, the initiative hopes to combat the “summer slide” experienced by non-reading students when outside of the classroom.

Companies and organizations can support the efforts of ReadOKC by donating rewards for students to receive when they reach their reading goals, serving as a champion or steward for a Little Free Library, volunteering as a reading buddy, joining the ReadOKC taskforce team, or telling your networks about ReadOKC. To get involved with ReadOKC, contact Abbie Dedmon, ReadOKC coordinator, at 405-604-5977 or abbie@okckids.com.

“Focusing on celebrating reading through reading challenges at schools, providing access to reading materials to all children and working to expand the number of caring adults working with our kids is a multi-faceted approach to developing a culture of reading in OKCPS and our community,” said Mary Mélon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and chair of the ReadOKC committee.

Since 2015, the Oklahoma City Schools Compact has maximized community resources to help Oklahoma City Public Schools succeed. The five community organizations involved – Oklahoma City Public Schools, the City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation, United Way of Central Oklahoma and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber – are tackling specific challenges like improving mental health and increasing literacy.

This article originally appeared in the August issue of The POINT! 

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