Camp Zama’s livestreamed Story Time keeps kids engaged with books
Col. Thomas Matelski, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, reads “Llama Llama Loves to Read” by Anna Dewdney at Camp Zama, Japan, April 10, a day off for Soldiers. Matelski read the story for the Camp Zama Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s livestreamed Story Time initiative. (Photo Credit: Photo by Winifred Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan (April 13, 2020) – Although Camp Zama libraries are closed due to COVID-19 concerns, Story Time has moved online and children can continue hearing adults read storybooks each week.

“It’s the best substitute we can have considering the conditions that we’re in,” said Jim Lacombe, Camp Zama supervisory librarian. “I think it’s something for people to look forward to every week, almost like a radio show or like a television show.”

Online Story Time takes place at 11 a.m. each Friday on the Camp Zama Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Facebook page at “Camp Zama MWR.” So far it has featured Lucinda Ward, school liaison officer, reading “Because I Stubbed My Toe,” by Shawn Byous, and Col. Thomas Matelski, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, reading “Llama Llama Loves to Read” by Anna Dewdney.

Matelski read April 10, a day off for Soldiers here, and said he volunteered because he enjoys reading books when he has free time, the library staff asked him to help out and reading to children is important.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity because I loved reading to our kids when they were small,” said Matelski, a father of five.

Online Story Time is one of several initiatives by Camp Zama FMWR’s Community Immunity Team, which aims to improve the community’s morale, and therefore immunity against COVID-19, by keeping people engaged and united.

Matelski praised the team for their efforts.

“It’s just great that our MWR program is putting together all these opportunities for our community … this is a way to connect and help our families,” Matelski said.

Matelski encouraged children during his online Story Time to snuggle up with parents and sit in their laps while he read, just like they might do during an in-person Story Time.

Members of the community have responded positively to the program, with more than 3,600 combined views of Ward and Matelski’s readings.

This week, Jared Barrick, coordinator for Camp Zama Children and Youth Services, will read, and next week will feature Rick Bosch, director of Camp Zama FMWR.

Lacombe said other libraries throughout the Army have also moved their Story Times online because it keeps people, particularly small children, in touch with reading.

In addition, Department of Defense Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Libraries have started a “Spring into Reading” challenge where children can win gift cards, Lacombe said. The challenge runs through May 16, and parents can find the details at

The Army Library Program also has a host of resources available online at, Lacombe said. Resources include databases, recorded books, digital books, magazines, Mango Language (including Japanese) and much more.

For those who have registered for online resources but forgotten their personal identification number, they can retrieve it using the email they used to register at, Lacombe said.

Those who have not registered before can send their information directly to the Army Library Program via, Lacombe said.