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United Through Reading Helps Comfort Military Kids

How Deployed Parents Can Share Story Time with their Kids Back Home


Photo by Spc. Jason Kemp. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

Through United Through Reading, Sgt. Tracy Syndab of the 55th Signal Company, Fort Meade, Md., reads "The Cat in the Hat" on camera for his children while deployed to Iraq. The video will then be sent back home where his kids can watch it on their TV.

Photo by Spc. Jason Kemp. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army
For military kids of deployed servicemembers, something as simple as hearing their parent's voice on a regular basis can go a long way in providing some much needed comfort.

And thanks to the United Through Reading Military Program, young children have the opportunity to see and hear their deployed parent reading them a story, but the benefits don't stop there.

According to United Through Reading, the act of reading to a child, also known as the "read-aloud experience" helps children acquire critical learning and communication skills.

Basically, what this means is that besides bridging the gap caused by the deployment, the servicemember who is reading the book may also be helping their child build his or her communication skills. As an added bonus it may even instill a love of reading within the child. (For more information about reading aloud to children please see Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud To Your Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.)

About the Program
The United Through Reading Military Program, which began in 1990, is conducted by videotaping a deploying (or deployed) parent reading aloud a children's book. The DVD is then sent to the child.

Upon receipt, the parent at home takes photographs or videos of the child watching the DVD of their deployed parent narrating the story. The parent at home then sends a copy of the photos or videotape to the deployed servicemember so he or she can see their son or daughter's response of being read to despite the miles that separate them, which in turn often gives the deployed parent a morale boost.

Where to Locate the Program
The United Through Reading Military Program is available to all deploying units and at numerous USO locations worldwide.

To find a location that's near you, simply visit the How to Participate page on the organization's Web site and download a list of featured locations. (FYI: This list is updated monthly.)

About United Through Reading
Although their Military Program began in 1990, United Through Reading, which is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) was founded in 1989 by Betty J. Mohlenbrock, a military wife and mother who was also a schoolteacher and reading specialist. However, the story really begins back when Mrs. Mohlenbrock's husband, a flight surgeon, returned from the Vietnam War and their two-year-old daughter didn't recognize him.

Wanting to help keep military families connected during a deployment, combined with her love for literacy, is what prompted Mrs. Mohlenbrock to create United Through Reading.

Since the United Through Reading Military program began, more than 1 million people have benefited from the service and much of it is made possible by the volunteers who have contributed more than 275,000 hours.

Want More Information?
Please visit the United Through Reading Military Program's Web site or their comprehensive FAQ page to learn more about this valuable program that helps keep military kids connected to their deployed parent. If you'd like to see first-hand how the program works, please view one of their numerous videos which are located here.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a volunteer with United Through Reading please send an e-mail to info@unitedthroughreading.org or call them at 1-858-481-7323.


Books Explaining Deployment
Are you searching for a book that will help you explain deployment to your kids? If so, check out the following good reads:

More Resources for Kids of Deployed Servicemembers

Free Online Tutoring for Military Kids

Operation Kid Comfort

Grants for Kids of Deployed Reservists and Guardsmen

Operation Purple

Explaining Deployments to Kids

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