By Staff Sgt. David OversonMarch 5, 2018
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Soldiers from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) took part in an annual celebration of reading known as Read Across America Day, by reading one or more of their favorite children's books to school children at the Hohenfels Elementary School, March 2, 2018.
Approximately 40 Soldiers took turns reading to each class throughout the day.
Read Across America Day is celebrated each year on March 2, the birthday of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel. It was created by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1998, and though "America" is in its title, Soldiers stationed in Germany still took it to heart.
U.S. Army Pvt. Mikayla Henning, a combat documentation/production specialist, relished the opportunity to read "The Red Thread," which is a fairy tale about adoption, to the local school children.
"Though they are just first-graders, it makes me feel happy to talk and read to young kids about a topic not really taught that much," said 20-year-old Henning.
Henning's personal feelings about adoption were the driving force in choosing that book tittle as she gave up a baby to be adopted when she was 18.
"I love telling people about it and the great experience I had, and how it benefited not only my son, but also me since I was so young," added Henning.
This year's book selection theme focused on "Diversity." In doing so, a grant was obtained by the Hohenfels Education Association from the NEA and the Federal Education Association to purchase approximately 75 new, diverse titles for the school's Information Center.
Each reading session began with the children reciting the Readers' Oath.
"I promise to read, each day and each night. I know it's the key to growing up right. I'll read to myself, I'll read to a crowd. It makes no difference if silent or loud. I'll read at my desk, at home and at school, on my bean bag or bed, by the fire or pool. Each book that I read, puts smarts in my head, 'cause brains grow more thoughts the more they are fed. So I take this oath to make reading my way, of feeding my brain, what it needs every day."
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mathew Price, JMRC's executive officer and father of two, enjoyed the opportunity to read "Freedom on the Menu" to some Hohenfels 5th-graders.
"It's important for my children to understand the themes for these reading events," said Price. "My daughter, Emma, knew she had to choose a book about diversity and spent her time in her favorite space - the library!"
The Hohenfels Elementary School Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) was also a contributing factor to the event's success.
The grant was given to the local PTA and the PTA board voted to donate all of the money towards the purchase of the books, said D'Andra Hunter, local PTA President.
"It's such a pleasure to see this school, with its limited resources, receive 75 new books specifically focused on diversity," added Hunter. "As we know, reading is fundamental, and the more we encourage it in our children, the more successful they'll grow to be."
U.S. Army Pfc. Meagan Mooney, another enthusiastic combat documentation/production specialist, assigned to JMRC, took time to read three books to one of the kindergarten classes.
"I think that reading to younger kids is important because as a child I was read to quite a bit," said 21-year-old Mooney. "And I've always found children who are read to a lot will tend to read more as an adult. I feel that's important to build their vocabulary and for growing young children's minds."
Soldiers from all demographics, and all ranks ranging from private to colonel participated in the reading event.
"I think the children really enjoy having Soldiers come in and read, which gives them a break from the daily routine," added Price. "Also that they understand that diversity is critical in our country."