Home to the largest military community in the U.S. is San Diego, according to the Department of Defense’s 2017 Demographics: Profile of the Military Community. A whopping 207,552 military members and their dependents live in the area. But consider a recent Navy Personnel Command report indicating sailors can spend up to 45% of their time away from home. And factor in ‘away-time’ for all those serving in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, Reserves, and Special Operations Forces. Then consider the children.
Enter United Through Reading (UTR), which video-records service members reading books for the special children in their lives. The recordings and books are provided to the child to enjoy over and over again during periods of physical separation from the service member. Here is not only a “cool” but essential tool for the establishment and maintenance of a read-aloud routine in military households to bolster educational outcomes for military children.
On November 9, 2018, UTR launched a Mobile Story Station (MSS), a van fully equipped with a video-recording studio and library of curated children’s books, which travels throughout the county providing on-the-spot services to military families where they live, work, and play. In less than a year, the MSS has visited locations throughout the area, recording 657 stories benefitting 2,628 military family members, including 1,314 children.
Interestingly, 57% of these beneficiaries are experiencing UTR storytime for the very first time. In addition, 32,686 individuals have gained awareness of the program through contact with this mobile unit. Recently, United Through Reading Mobile Story Station earned top honors with a Cool Tool Award Winner for “Best New Product or Service” as part of The EdTech Awards 2020. Pictured below, a service member speaks directly; the mobile unit. Learn more.
This article was originally published in EdTech Digest on July 31, 2020.