Reading Program Helps Build Military Family Ties

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Spending time away from family is something parents and their children often have to go through in the military.
But one woman is working to help families prepare.
Julia Laude helps us to learn more about the 'United through Reading' program.

Tonya Wood; Coordinator, United Through Reading>>"'Harold and the Purple Crayon', 'The Carrot Seed', 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid', 'Judy Moody', or 'A Wrinkle in Time'."

What began as a Family Readiness Group idea, Mother Tonya Wood has taken and spread throughout Fort Wainwright and to the airmen at Eielson Air Force base.
The United through Reading program is a way for enlisted service members to connect with their children or other family members while they are away at training or on deployment.
Parents pick a book, record themselves reading and then give that book to their children with a DVD so their children can read with their parent even when they're away.
Reading has always been a big part of the Wood family.

Tonya Wood; Coordinator, United Through Reading>>"My husband takes care of the bed time stories. Being military there's times when he's gone and they're so used to daddy reading them a story that this was a great way for him to continue reading stories and it's books that are favorites with them that they can still read with him and they have little quirks that when he reads a story a certain way they still get to hear him be a part of because I don't read the same way. Because we love books, I think every child should read books, be read to so this was a great way to expand that and allow other families to take advantage of the program."

Ella Doak helped Wood bring the reading program to Eielson.
With both parents enlisted, the Doak family not only advocates for the program but has used it to connect with their children as well.

Master Sgt. Ella Doak; United Through Reading>>"He really loved it. He was excited. He looked at me, he looked at the T-V, he was confused for a little bit and I was holding up the book like this and reading to him so he could follow along and have the book in hand."

The USO on Fort Wainwright also provides its own set-up for parents.

Military Parent Reading>>"He'll get so excited he'll want to draw one of them on his own. He'll ask for a paper and crayons."

So whether you'd like to connect with your children, or you miss your aunties and uncles, the 'United through Reading' program is free for families to use.
This is Julia Laude reporting.