United Way Reading Oasis Launches in Schools


United Way is going into primary schools to launch the United Way Reading Oasis. This is because we want more children to enjoy reading, and to increase their life skills thanks to it.

The goal of the United Way Reading Oasis is to give every child the opportunity to love reading, positively affecting their ability to learn throughout school and beyond––we intend for every primary school in the UK to have a dedicated space for children to read for pleasure by 2025.

Reading for pleasure, even for just 15 minutes per day, has been proven to improve general learning levels through vocabulary acquisition and an understanding of new concepts and ideas.

A need for the United Way Reading Oasis

United Way decided to launch this new initiative, because data driven research and conversations with teachers and other experts revealed a need:

  • Every year, over 1 in 3 children receiving free school meals leaves primary school with substandard literacy - around twice as many as children not on free school meals
  • 93% of these same children will not achieve 5 GCSEs before leaving school
  • Reading aloud with a child for 15 minutes every day is one of the most effective routes to tackling literacy and ongoing learning issues. However, 1 in 3 children do not have a book of their own at home
  • We estimate that 20% of primary schools in England do not have libraries, and this is set to increase

What is a United Way Reading Oasis?

The United Way Reading Oasis is a safe and inviting space within a school where children can enjoy reading and gain access to brand new books, while learning how to make reading a habit at home. Designed in collaboration with primary school teachers, publishers, other charities and children, a Reading Oasis includes:

  • Hundreds of brand new books from Scholastic UK, chosen specifically to encourage reading across all interests, ages and abilities
  • Designer bookshelves to display the books in a way that will encourage the children to pick them up and read
  • A warm and comfortable space for the children to read alone or to one another, with a big woodland themed rug and beanbags to sit on
  • A free book for every child at the school to keep and read at home
  • A free book every month from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, sent to the home of all pre-school children associated with the school
  • Monthly texts to encourage reading, with tools and tips sent straight to parents' and carers' phones

What do teachers think about United Way Reading Oases?

"We are really excited about The United Way Reading Oasis as we think it will be an amazing opportunity for our School and our students. Books inspire the staff and the students at The Bridge and we will be able to use them to encourage and foster a love of reading. To be able to send books home with the children will also have a positive impact on the community and will support learning at home" Penny Doswell, Head of Primary at The Bridge School

Reading for pleasure is so important for young children and we are delighted that the Reading Oasis project gives us the opportunity to further develop this area.  To have an attractive area where children and families enjoy sharing books can only have a positive impact for our school." Greg Parker, Head at LIPA

How can my school get a United Way Reading Oasis?

United Way are prioritising primary schools wth 30% or more children on free school meals, and particularly want to support those schools with an inadequate or no library. The initiative is available nationwide, but is dependent upon funding. If you are a parent or teacher associated with a school who meet these criteria, please get in touch with United Way. We will then see if you are within a location we have a current donor or, where possible, will seek a donor to support the installation.

How can I support the United Way Reading Oasis project?

Adopt a school! We are looking for individuals, businesses, companies, and communities to ‘adopt’ the schools that need it the most- those with no school library or with a ‘high’ number of children receiving free school meals.

The cost is £10,000. You can adopt your own school, ask your business to, or get a team together to fundraise.

Every business and donor who gets involved will be given the opportunity to volunteer in their local United Way Reading Oasis. Volunteers can assemble the furniture, set out the books, sticker them by subject and read with the children.

If you want to find out more about fundraising or donating, please do get in touch. Alternatively, you can make a donation here and whenever we hit the necessary £10,000 mark from your donations, we'll match it with a school and get a Reading Oasis installed. Thank you!