New Caney ISD creates classroom libraries to encourage reading

NEW CANEY, TX (KTRK) -- Taylor Tate is a burgeoning reader.

"Jungle books. I love jungle books," the kindergartner told Eyewitness News. "I love to because my mom is going to read this to me."

A love being fostered by a small corner of her classroom at Oakley Elementary.

A classroom library called a nook, complete with books and bean bag chair, a rug, and a reading lamp. This is one of 54 new classroom libraries in New Caney ISD.

"Kids who are early readers have so much more success in the future," said Michele Dykstra with the New Caney Education Foundation which, together with corporate sponsors, provided the $50,000 to fund the project.

"We provide those extras that allow the teachers to go above and beyond in their classrooms," added Ted Mandel, a NCEF board member.

"It is a huge deal," explained Oakley Elementary School principal. "A lot of our kids come to school and they don't even know how to hold a book. So we start at Day 1. How to hold a book, reading left to right."

Students like Taylor Tate, whose parents read to them, are in the minority at Oakley Elementary. Eighty percent of Oakley's 750 students receive free or reduced lunch under a federal program called Title One. Their families struggle to keep the lights on, let along purchase books.

"So many of our kids don't have books in their home or they don't have the opportunity to have books all of the time," explained teacher Whitney Kopp.

Her classroom has one of the reading nooks.

"And so it is very critical for them to have a variety of books in the classroom," Kopp said.

It's a little thing that goes a long way, maybe leading to storybook endings for the children lucky enough to have it.
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