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'United Through Reading' connects military families

Library Kids Books
Posted at 4:49 AM, Feb 24, 2021

Over Zoom, 6-year-old Henry is reading a page from his favorite book.

“It’s Nibbles the Dinosaur Guide,” he says as he flashes the pages.

It’s a book his Dad, Vince, has read to him many times.

“My husband has been gone since he was born,” says Henry’s mom, Jennifer Fontana.

He’s in the Air Force and travels a lot while his family is stationed in South Carolina, but Fontana says they found a new way to stay connected. It’s called United Through Reading, a nonprofit that sends books to servicemen and women. Someone records them reading the book and then it’s put on an SD card and sent back home.

“[This is] because many of those locations don’t have the ability to upload to the internet,” said CEO of United Through Reading Sally Ann Zoll.

Zoll says they also have an app. You can record yourself reading the books before you leave and it stores the recordings on your phone, giving kids a connection to their mom or dad whenever they need them.

“If you’re halfway around the world, the timing is not always great,” Zoll said. “So, you might FaceTime your spouse but if it’s midnight, your spouse probably won’t wake up your children to see you.”

It’s something that has come in handy for Henry and Jennifer.

“We can record hundreds of thousands of books, and they’re all kept in this nice safe place for us,” Jennifer said. “Being able to see him versus just hearing him makes all the difference in somebody’s life.”

To learn more about United Through Reading, click here.