The Story of Book Lovers
August 9, 2022
Book lovers Day is recognized annually on August 9th and to celebrate United Through Reading will introduce you to a pair of our volunteers that fell in love while sharing their passion for reading years ago. Paul and Danielle Wilson now have four children and their family absolutely loves books.
This book lovers’ story started back in March of 2017 in South Korea. Both Paul and Danielle served in the Air Force and were stationed at Kunsan Air Base. Paul worked in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Danielle served as a Diagnostic Imaging Technologist.
Paul remembers, “on the bus ride during a base chapel volunteer trip, I asked the cute girl that sang at Church each Sunday if I could sit next to her. She said yes, and I rapidly grew enamored of her. I was definitely going to marry this one.”
Danielle also remembers the bus ride, “I heard Paul talking about his daughter Nora with the people sitting next to him and showing pictures of her. Over the next month, we talked and began spending more time together, bonding over our daughters who we were separated from.”
The separation from their daughters brought them together and motivated them to volunteer for United Through Reading. “I loved the program and how it allowed me to connect with my daughter during this year-long assignment. I had made a habit since she was born to read to Lillian every day, so this program enabled me to continue that from afar. Once Paul and I met and talked about the UTR program that had disappeared from base, we decided to revive it for our use and to help others connect as well with their loved ones back home,” explains Danielle.
Paul says their program was thriving, “It was incredible to see parents excited to send their children these books and videos. The repeat users, some that came every single month, also made me smile, knowing that those children received a new video of their mom or dad. It was great to know we were part of that process and were having a real impact in their lives. We also watched the turnout grow every month, knowing that word was spreading around the base about the program.
The success of the United Through Reading program also led to progress in their personal lives. Paul asked Danielle to marry him three times before she said yes. The couple were married in a local courthouse in March 2019 and then had a large wedding the following December in Rockaway, NJ.
Fast forward to 2022, they have a beautiful, blended book-loving family: Nora Clare (9), Lillian (7), John Paul (2), and Elizabeth (3 months old).
Paul says, “Elizabeth is huge! And has the biggest, most awesome smiles in the world. She listens to every story we read to the other kids and is definitely paying attention.”
As you can imagine, their house has books in every room. “This summer, we read the Percy Jackson series to our older girls every night before bed and finished all five of them in two months. Also, we had the girls read out loud a book at their reading level each day while also reading to all four children in any downtime or while going on road trips,” explains Danielle. In fact, they are still reading books they sent their oldest daughters through UTR from their time in Korea.
The book-loving Wilson family has continued bonding through reading during deployment, marriage, and growth too. And now, in their next phase of life, Paul’s retirement from the Air Force and a move to Bowling Green, Ohio. “It’s a town neither of us has ever been to for longer than a day. The current plan is to raise the family together while volunteering in the local community to find our place and potentially something to do for the long term,” explains Paul.
Learn more about becoming a UTR Volunteer at https://unitedthroughreading.org/volunteers/