Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation is honored and grateful to once again partner with the Tennessee Department of Education to present Opportunities with Literacy – “OWL Fest,” a curated bookstore and shopping experience for 41 CSI schools across Tennessee. OWL Fest is designed to support students enrolled at these schools by building their home libraries and fostering their motivation to read. Each school will have a one-day event during which PreK-5th grade classes will visit the OWL Fest “bookstore” to select from a broad collection of high-quality, high-interest, grade-appropriate titles. Each student will select six books to take home, completely free to them and their school. Each teacher will also be given the opportunity to order additional free resources.

Impact

OWL Fest’s design is based on literacy research. Only 40% of Tennessee 3rd graders read proficiently, which ranges from 22-38% in priority schools. A two-decade long study found that the presence of a home library increases children’s academic success, vocabulary development, attention, and job attainment. Children with as few as 25 books in the home complete an average of two more years of schooling than those with no books. Additionally, research from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report: 8th Edition shows most children (93%) are more likely to finish reading books that they have picked out themselves and that those are often their favorite books (92%) demonstrating that the student-selection feature of OWL Fest is critical to inspiring reading motivation.

I’ve never had six books before.

5th Grade Student
Green Magnet School

Volunteer at an OWL Fest school near you!

In September 2024, volunteer opportunities will be available throughout Tennessee (Memphis, Jackson, Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville), with multiple shifts available.

What to expect as a volunteer:

  • Assist with set-up (morning shift)
  • Pre-stuff bags for children
  • Assist with “check-out” process.
  • Assist with bagging books for children.
  • Keep bookcases tidy between classes.
  • Help children select books.
  • Assist with packing up (afternoon shift)
  • Shift lengths available in increments of 2 hours
  • Requires ability to stand for several hours.
  • Work inside, on-site at various schools across Tennessee
  • Help children get excited about reading

Seeing the excitement on the faces of the children was amazing. They couldn’t believe they could pick out six books to keep and not have to pay. It is a reminder that little things to some, are big things to a child.

Marianne Dunavant
Ford BlueOval City Community Relations

Teaching children how to read, and how to read well, is one of the most important things we can do to set them up for success in their education, in college and career, and in life. Thanks to our partners at GELF, students across the state have access to free books through OWL Fest to help them become strong readers.

Lizzette Reynolds
TN Commissioner of Education

The OWL Fest Project was a great success! Seeing the students glow and excitement of selecting books and realizing that they could keep them was the highlight of my day and very heartwarming!

Penny Tubbs
West TN Regional Director