Soldiers spark children’s interest in books, reading

| March 8, 2013 | 0 Comments
Staff Sgt. Aaron Cabildo, a tuba player with the 25th ID Band, HHBN, 25th ID, reads to a kindergarten class during Reading Across America at Hale Kula Elementary School, March 1.

Staff Sgt. Aaron Cabildo, a tuba player with the 25th ID Band, HHBN, 25th ID, reads to a kindergarten class during Reading Across America at Hale Kula Elementary School, March 1.

Story and photos by
Sgt. Ariana Cary
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The room instantly grew silent as all eyes turned to the Soldier walking in.

Approximately 20 children stared up from the floor, where they were sitting and waiting eagerly.

“Hello, and thank you so much for coming,” the teacher said, with a smile, as she moved forward to shake the Soldier’s hand.

Pfc. Jessica Munivong, a signal system support specialist with HSC, HHBN, 25th ID, takes her seat at the front of the class to read to students from her favorite book.

Pfc. Jessica Munivong, a signal system support specialist with HSC, HHBN, 25th ID, takes her seat at the front of the class to read to students from her favorite book.

The Soldier then took her place in the small plastic chair in front of the children and introduced herself as Pfc. Jessica Munivong, a signal systems support specialist with Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, before delving into the two books she had personally selected to read to the class.

Munivong and other Soldiers with HHBN, 25th ID, visited students at Hale Kula Elementary School, here, March 1, as part of the Read Across America program in which Soldiers volunteer to read to children in their classrooms.

“This program is priceless,” said Janet Huszar, a librarian assistant with the Hale Kula school library for 20 years.

“I think it’s really good for the Soldiers as much as it is for the kids, “ Huszar added. “A lot of (the Soldiers) don’t have children; they’re really young. And when you’re away from home, like they are, it’s nice to kind of feel like you’re part of a family, even if it’s just for a day.”

Huszar recalled one year when a Soldier picked out his books from the library and took them home to practice reading out loud. He called his mother, a librarian, to tell her about what he had volunteered to do.

Staff Sgt. Gary Uttrich, an assistant team leader with the 25th ID Band, HHBN, 25th ID, reads a jungle story to a special education preschool class at Hale Kula Elementary School.

Staff Sgt. Gary Uttrich, an assistant team leader with the 25th ID Band, HHBN, 25th ID, reads a jungle story to a special education preschool class at Hale Kula Elementary School.

She was so proud of him, said Huszar, and she had him read the books to her over the phone several times and then gave her son tips on how to make his storytelling more interesting and meaningful.

“He came in the day the Soldiers were to read to the kids and told me about practicing with his mother,” said Huszar. “She gave him advice on when to raise his voice or speak quietly. She taught him to read with expression. It turned into a bonding experience with this Soldier and his mom.”

Sometimes parents who volunteer for the program are able to read to their child’s class. At first the kids are embarrassed, said Huszar, but they also get excited and proud that their parent is reading to their class.

“I really enjoyed coming out to read to them,” said Sgt. Crystal Salazar, a team leader with HSC, HHBN, 25th ID. “I actually got to read to both of the classes my kids are in. All the kids already knew who I was, and I was welcomed with open arms.”

Staff Sgt. Charles Cassady, a platoon sergeant with the Intelligence and Sustainment Company, HHBN, 25th ID, captivates kindergarteners with a book about dinosaurs.

Staff Sgt. Charles Cassady, a platoon sergeant with the Intelligence and Sustainment Company, HHBN, 25th ID, captivates kindergarteners with a book about dinosaurs.

Salazar read to her children’s kindergarten and first-grade classes. After she finished reading, her daughter had had so much fun, she asked her mom if they could get the books for home.

“My kids loved it,” Salazar said. “They want me to read the books again for bedtime.”

The Read Across America program allows children to see that adults love reading.

It also encourages them to love reading, Huszar said.

“Reading opens up their world,” she said.

Read Across America is one way the Army interacts with our nation’s future, our children, by helping them interact with Soldiers. The program is just one way that the Army is committed to the community and local populace.

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Category: Community, Community Relations, Education

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