By: Bernadette White
The “United Through Reading (UTR) was founded in 1989 by the wife of a Naval flight surgeon who deployed to Vietnam leaving his infant daughter at home. When the surgeon returned home, his little girl didn’t know him and he had to re-enter her life as a stranger.” (United Through Reading, n.d.)
The UTR Program connects military Families who are separated due to deployment or other absence by providing Service Members the opportunity to record themselves reading a story aloud to their children. The recordings usually take place in a USO or library that is set up for this service. The Service Members mail the recording (on a DVD) and the book back home so that the child can see the parent and read the story along with them. Imagine the memories that are created during a critical time in a child’s life when their parent is not physically present with them. Our daughter, now a teen, still cherishes the recorded stories that my husband read to her during his last deployment.
The program works for Families who are apart even when the separation is not due to a deployment. We recently had a Soldier to record a book for his daughter who will not be physically present with him at his next duty station. Very young children may not understand the reason for the absence, but they miss that parent who is not there to tuck them in at night or to read a bedtime story. The UTR program allows the parent to continue with the established routines in their households or to start new ones.
The impact on the children is that this recording relieves some of the stress that children may be experiencing while separated from the parent, and a significant trigger for developing children’s reading skills that would carry through their lifetimes. Both parents are able to share in some aspects of child-rearing even in the absence of one parent.
We now have a UTR recording site located within Army Community Service on Fort Gordon. This free resource exists for all Service Members in our footprint to include, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Soldiers who are serving in the Active Component, Reserves and the National Guard. You may record a story even if you are not deploying; any absence from your child(ren) is an opportunity to read aloud and create memories.
The Mobilization and Deployment Program is here to help get you started on your recording! Please call us at 706-791-3504/3599 to schedule a date/time to read and record your story. We are located in the Command Support Center, building 35200.
Recording hours are from 0900-1600, Monday – Friday. We have books on our shelves, but if you have a specific, favorite book that you would like to read, please bring it!
United Through Reading. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://unitedthroughreading.org/about/