Deployments and frequent separations are a reality for military families. In fact, every year, more than 100,000 military parents deploy leaving nearly 250,000 children at home. A conservative separation is about 6-months, and that means these military children have 180 nights without their parent home for a bedtime story. That’s 40 million bedtime stories missed each year by military children.
United Through Reading’s mission is to connect military families through the read-aloud experience, and we are able to deliver many of these stories each year. In fact, in 2016 we delivered more than eight million. But there are still millions of stories left to send home. This year we are working to close the gap and ensure that every military child can reap the benefits of storytime with their far-away parent. After all, we believe that every child deserves a bedtime story.
At UTR, what we do is simple. Stories are read aloud by service members and captured on video to be sent home to military children. Through these simple stories children see their loved ones face, hear their familiar voice, and as they read along in their book something profound takes place:
- The anxiety and stress, caused by separation, fades
- Service members become part of the family’s daily life at home again
- Caregivers at home are supported because the parenting responsibility is shared
- Homecomings begin with a child welcoming a familiar parent, not a stranger
- A love of reading and books is sparked in the child