Free App Lets Troops Read to Their Kids From Anywhere

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PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 16, 2018) Navy Counselor 1st Class Andrew Eichman, from Bakersfield, California, records himself reading a book to his daughter through the United Through Reading program aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance. (U.S. Navy photo/Ryan D. McLearnon)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 16, 2018) Navy Counselor 1st Class Andrew Eichman, from Bakersfield, California, records himself reading a book to his daughter through the United Through Reading program aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance. (U.S. Navy photo/Ryan D. McLearnon)

During deployment, we expect to feel our service member's absence on the big days: birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. But sometimes it's the little moments that are the hardest.

For us, it was always the evenings. The gaping hole in our family was far more noticeable when it came time to do a bedtime story and tuck-in. Now, one of our favorite non-profits, United Through Reading, has created an app to help bridge the distance by enabling service members to read stories to their kiddos.

"For 30 years, United Through Reading has helped service members video-record stories for a child in their life. As technology has changed, our program has gone from VHS tapes to DVDs to DS cards and now to cloud storage with our app. We are thrilled to introduce our app so service members can video-record story time anywhere and anytime!" said Dr. Sally Ann Zoll, CEO of United Through Reading.

United Through Reading's mission is to unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud. Recordings are said to ease the stress of separation, maintain positive emotional connections and cultivate a love of reading and early childhood literacy.

The free app allows service members to record themselves on video and then email the link to a caregiver back home. As if that wasn't enough, a physical copy of the book the service member reads can be requested and sent for free to the families thanks to a donation from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

New to the app is the option for service members to record from ebooks if they are unable to find a physical book. A physical copy of the book will then be shipped to the child.

In partnership with the learning technology company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, five ebooks are currently available. Those books are:

  • "Anastasia On Her Own" by Lois Lowry
  • "Curious George’s First Day of School" by Margret and H.A. Rey
  • "Just Grace Goes Green" by Charise Mericle Harper
  • "Little Helpers Animals On The Job!" by Michelle Brummer Everett
  • "Valentine Mice!" by Bethany Roberts

The app is available on both iOS and Android devices, and recordings are safe with a login from Id.me's TroopID.

Deployment is hard enough. Let United Through Reading make it a little easier on your children, which will make bedtime a little easier on you.

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