FORT BRAGGImagine walking through a magical forest full of fairies and gnomes or exploring outer space where mysterious green aliens hide behind every corner.

For children, these imaginary worlds are created by each page of an interesting book with only their imagination as their boundary.

The national launch of the Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces program will include the distribution of about 4,000 books in North Carolina Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. at the W.T. Brown Elementary School in Spring Lake, according to the Blue Star Families Web site, www.bluestarfam.org.

Blue Star Families, a non-profit organization of military Families, has partnered with Kids in Distressed Situations, Incorporated, to introduce the Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces program.
The purpose of the program is to distribute 100,000 books to military schools and libraries, as well as local military-impacted public schools across the nation to promote the healing power of books, said Lisa Ferguson, the coordinator of the Fayetteville-area Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces group.

During the national launch, a representative from each of the schools and libraries will be there to accept their book donation, Ferguson explained.

The event also will include an appearance by N.C. Governor Bev Perdue, who is scheduled to read to the children, Ferguson said.

From there, the books will be taken back to the schools and libraries.

"These books will give kids the opportunity to have fun and read, which will help them with any stress they might have and also help keep them out of trouble," said Airman 1st Class Nicholas Mangham, 2nd Airlift Squadron.

Ferguson, a native of Enterprise, Ala., said she couldn't agree more.

"I think it's a really good program because statistics have shown that higher stress and anxiety levels are found in military children," Ferguson said. "Reading books has been proven to help reduce anxiety and stress in children."

Besides helping with the heightened stress levels found in military children, these books will also provide on-going support in the effort to promote literacy in America's children, according to the Blue Star Families Web site.

Children with parents serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard will benefit from this significant donation to their schools and libraries, the Blue Star Families Web site explained.

Even though Ferguson wasn't a military child growing up, she said she still found that books helped her escape everyday problems.

"I loved the Ramona Quimby books when I was growing up," Ferguson explained. "She would get herself into these crazy situations and mischief; it was nice to see a different perspective of how a Family acted when she would find herself in trouble."

As the U.S. military faces its eighth consecutive year of war, these books, just like the books kids read, will hopefully help ease the consequences of the recent stressful times military children have experienced as a result of their parents deploying.

Before the end of the year, Blue Star Families and K.I.D.S plans to distribute 10,000 books to military children, with a goal of 25,000 to 30,000, for next year, the Blue Star Families Web site explained.

"If we can donate books to help children not be so upset and be able to enjoy school and their friends or sports, I think that's a really great thing," Ferguson said.

Page last updated Mon September 14th, 2009 at 09:01