Health and Human services adding reading center

Published 4:00 pm Monday, May 25, 2015

An example of what a Reading Oasis could look like.  Photo provided

An example of what a Reading Oasis could look like.
Photo provided

Mower County Health and Human Services is getting a chance to promote parents and children reading together.

Health and Human Services received funds to add a Reading Oasis section to the office lobby on the second floor of the Mower County Government Center.

“It’s just to improve the environment and really have something for kids to do and to promote parents to sit down and read with their child,” Community Health Supervisor Pam Kellogg said.

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The county is now receiving the 1,200 books and furniture to set up the Reading Oasis, which is planned to debut Aug. 3. Scholastic Book Fairs will host a book fair during the kickoff and ribbon cutting.

The books will be for children through a fith-grade reading level. Along with books, the rooms also include kid-friendly furniture and listening centers.

Kellogg said Mower County is unique to get this for the Health and Human Services lobby, as most of these libraries have gone to schools.

“I am guessing we’re pretty unique,” she said.

The books will be in the lobby, parent visitation rooms and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental food program area.

Kellogg said it will encourage parents to put their cell phones down, turn the TV off and sit down to interact and cuddle with their children.

She said parents should be able to find books they loved when they were young to introduce to their children.

The county received $10,000 for the project. Rotary raised $2,500 for the program, which the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation matched, and then Scholastic matched both donations.

The groups supported the program to improve local literacy rates and inspire children to read.

SMIF and Scholastic also donated funds for reading programs at the Harriet Bishop Elementary School in Rochester, the Northfield Community Resource Center Atrium, and the the Sunnyside Elementary School in Red Wing.

“SMIF is excited to receive books from Scholastic Book Fairs and work with these organizations to create a reading room and provides children from birth to age 8 with more access to books,” said Tim Penny, SMIF’s president and CEO, in a press release. “It is important that children develop their reading skills at an early age and that reading becomes a part of their daily lives. SMIF is committed to supporting programs and projects that encourage literacy and development.”