By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsFebruary 27, 2009
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - More than 60 children sat on the floor, legs crossed with their heads gently resting on their palms, and they listened attentively as Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Williamson, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, read aloud.
Parents and volunteers sat in the background smiling at the children during the Military Child Education Coalition's "Tell Me a Story" event at the Wheeler Elementary School cafeteria here, Feb. 11.
Words flowed effortlessly from Williamson's mouth as he read a story of a young child who wanted nothing else in the world but to learn how to read.
"Reading is a privilege," said Williamson, taking a break from the written word to address the children. "Not everyone has a chance like you do to learn."
Reading is the foundation of learning and an important skill for success in school and life, according to Karmin Solomon, team lead for Parent to Parent. It is an indulgence that enhances knowledge acquired and stimulates imagination, she explained.
The Tell Me a Story initiative was created to empower military children by using literature and providing a fun learning experience.
"We want to bring families in the community together, including military leadership, and promote reading as a fun and healthy activity for the whole family," said Solomon. "Reading is so important, and it should begin in the home."
The images from the book were displayed on a large screen, ensuring no one would miss the magical artwork from the inspirational book entitled "More than Anything Else."
The book, set in 1895, took children through the journey of inquisitive 9-year-old Booker T. Washington.
"He really wanted to read, but his parents didn't know how, so they couldn't teach him," explained Mackenzie Mangan, 5. "He worked and didn't go to school."
"But then someone gave him a book and helped him," added Hallie Kulwiki, 5. When the story ended, children broke into small groups to discuss their thoughts on the story. They spoke of Washington's quest for knowledge and shared what they learned from the book.
"It showed it's important to read," said Logan Hoy, 6. "I know it's important to read so I practice."
"It's fun," chimed in Hoy's younger brother, Gabriel.
"Sometimes you need help," said Kulwiki. "My mom helps me read, and I am going to help my little sister to read."
The moral of the story rang a different tune for Kyla Ramos, 11.
"The book says to be grateful of what you have," said Ramos, "and to never give up on your dreams."
After the discussions ended, parents and children enjoyed refreshments and created souvenir bookmarks.
Schofield Barracks' Parent to Parent presented the free event as part of the Family Literacy Program.