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Watch these bedtime stories from around the globe, delivered by United Through Reading.
We first discovered United Through Reading 10 years ago as I was about to leave for our first deployment with kids. We began reading to our kids before they were born and weren't going to let some little thing like thousands of miles of ocean stop that. I was deployed when Sarah was born; it was a tough time for everyone, but especially for my wife. At the end of an exhausting day, I was there to read the kids a story and to give Mommy a much-needed break. Sarah would crawl to the TV, pat the screen and use her first word, "Dada," to request FaceTime long before Apple ever thought of it. When I came home from the second deployment, having been physically present with Sarah for a total of about two of her 14 months of life, she reached out and touched my face, not a cold glass image, but a real person. There was no crying, no pulling away, no transition, just immediate acceptance - we were truly United Through Reading.
Reading a book to my children from the middle of the ocean or the middle of the desert isn't just a distraction or a way to pass the time. It reminds me why I am away: more than a job or a mission, I am there precisely because I am a Dad and want to make sure that the freedoms and security of the country I love and whose Flag I bear are there for my children. As I read a silly children's book or a fun adventure story, I am reminded of my family and of my identity: husband, father, human being. It changes how I interact with others and it makes me a better person.
— Chaplain Dennis Kelly, U.S. Navy
Meet Chris and Christina Flores. They are an U.S. Army family that shared their United Through Reading experience. They started using United Through Reading when Christina was pregnant with their first born.
Cadence Driscoll was born into this world without meeting her father – U.S. Army Captain Alex Driscoll was deployed to Afghanistan for his second tour during the birth of his first born. Although Capt. Driscoll was Skyped in from miles away, the distance still took a toll on him and his growing family. They found UTR bridge the distance. Capt. Driscoll surprised his wife, Cleo, and unborn baby with his first recording while en route to Afghanistan. His second video arrived after Cleo gave birth to their baby girl.
“He kind of got lost in it a little bit I think,” Cleo admitted when describing her husband in the videos, “It was a little break for him where he could feel connected to us in the midst of all the craziness going on.”
As a comfort mechanism for Cleo, and a way for Cadence to virtually meet her father – the two watched the videos every night while Capt. Driscoll was away from home. “I would put [the video] in the laptop and sit her up on my chest and play it for her. I really think that helped her be comfortable with him when he came home. She was so fascinated with looking at him when he talked to her when they finally met. No fussing or crying, she just watched him. You definitely could tell she was used to his voice.”
— The Driscoll Family, a U.S. Army Family