First Book & UTR Keep Military Families Connected

“When Rex is deployed there is a very large hole in our family dynamic.  He feels like by not being here and being able to do the things he usually does with the kids, he isn’t as connected to them.”

Veronica and Rex Boblett have four children ages four to 11. They call their family “a team.” Rex has served in the United States Navy for almost 14 years as a Master at Arms. He was recently deployed.

For the next 10 months while Rex is deployed his team will miss out on playing with their dad on the playground, roasting marshmallows in the backyard and family pizza and movie night.

Their team story time each night will also be down one member.

But thanks to a partnership between First Book and United Through Reading, the Bobletts can continue their tradition of reading together while Rex is away. United Through Reading’s program allows Rex to record videos of himself reading books and send them to his family. Back home, the kids watch his videos and send video responses back to their dad.

“Our family loves to read and it means the world to us that we can still incorporate Daddy into our regular bedtime routine,” says Veronica. “The kids pile up on the couch with the book that is sent to us and we read along.  He makes silly sounds and voices to keep them engaged.  They love it!”

The videos help the Bobletts stay connected as a family. They also help Veronica and Rex reinforce the importance of reading. Their daughter Annaleigh always loved storytime, but never was one to read on her own. Since Rex started reading to her with United Through Reading, however, Annaleigh flies through books now and has asked her Dad to read chapter books on video.

“The video recordings are a piece of their daddy. They ask to watch them over and over again,” says Veronica.  “If the kids are feeling down or having a bad day, we put in the video and there is an immediate smile as soon as they hear his voice.” For Rex, reading the stories on video makes him feel like he is right there in person, even while he’s in the middle of the ocean.

This Veteran’s Day, First Book and United Through reading would like to thank and honor all the veterans and active service members who serve our country – today and always.

United Through Reading is the nation’s first nonprofit to promote the read-aloud experience for separated military families.  United Through Reading offers service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children at home, which eases the stress of separation, maintains positive emotional connections, encourages early literacy and cultivates a love of reading.  At nearly 200 recording locations worldwide, service members can read to their children from units on ships, in tents in Afghanistan, on bases and installations around the world and at 70 USO centers worldwide.

image of an educator reading to two kids from a picture book. There is text that says, 'Matching Challenge: Be a Champion for Educators! Your gift by May 31 can go twice as far to provide new, high-quality books and other resources educators need to help students unlock their full potential.' There is a red button in the bottom, right corner that says, 'I'll give now'.