New adventures await students at eight elementary schools this fall, as each school opened a Ben Carson Reading Room featuring comfortable chairs, inspirational design and dozens of new books. The rooms, sponsored by the Carson Scholars Fund, were made possible thanks to generous gifts from Domtar and its vendor partners.
The Ben Carson Reading Project is an initiative of the Carson Scholars Fund, a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 by world-renowned retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson and his wife, Candy. The first Domtar-sponsored reading room opened at Johnsonburg Area Elementary School in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, in 2012.
Domtar colleagues volunteered at each of the eight new sites, building shelves, painting walls and sorting books, among other tasks. The schools held ribbon-cutting ceremonies in August and September to celebrate the academic benefits — but more importantly, the fun — of traveling to new places and meeting new people through the pages of a book.
Old Pointe Elementary School
Candy Carson attended the opening ceremony for the Ben Carson Reading Room at Old Pointe Elementary School in Rock Hill, South Carolina. She challenged students to open their minds and imaginations by reading each day.
“Books can open new worlds for you,” Carson said. “They can take you anywhere you can imagine. You can be a butterfly. You can be a dinosaur. There are stories for all kinds of things you might want to do.”
Students and teachers marveled when the doors to the new Ben Carson Reading Room opened. Its bright blue walls are decorated in an ocean theme and adorned with inspirational posters. Packed bookshelves fit nicely inside, as do small sofas and bean bag chairs.
“This offers students a relaxing, enjoyable place for independent reading,” said Sherry Moore, a literacy coach at Old Pointe Elementary. “They read during the school day, but often it’s not what they choose [to read]. Here, they can pick their own story and dive in.”
Other Ben Carson Reading Rooms
Seven other schools opened Ben Carson Reading Rooms with similar fanfare:
- Haywood Elementary School in Brownsville, Tennessee
- Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Kingsport, Tennessee
- Lake Park Elementary School in Addison, Illinois
- Foust Elementary School in Owensboro, Kentucky
- Clio Elementary Middle School in Clio, South Carolina
- John Q. Adams Elementary School in Dallas, Texas
- Mallard Creek Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina
These eight reading rooms were the last of the 10 rooms sponsored by Domtar and its vendors to open in 2016. Reading rooms opened in the spring at L.F. Henderson Intermediate School in Ashdown, Arkansas, and Creswell Elementary School in Plymouth, North Carolina.
Representatives from vendor partners attended each of the opening ceremonies, including colleagues from Interstate Transportation, Nalco Company, Buckman, Childress Klein Properties, Omya, AFN LLC and others.
“We applaud the philanthropic vision and giving spirit of Domtar and its vendor partners for making the largest donation earmarked exclusively for reading rooms that we have received to date,” said Amy Warner, executive director of the Carson Scholars Fund, Inc.
Today, there are Ben Carson Reading Rooms in 21 states and 160 schools, 85 percent of which serve predominantly low-income students. The rooms house more than 69,000 books, and they’ve helped more than 63,000 students since the project began 16 years ago.
Watch our video below to learn more about the new Ben Carson Reading Rooms opened in 2016.