FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood celebrated Read Across America Day virtually Tuesday with Soldiers reading to viewers in three pre-recorded videos posted to Facebook, YouTube and the Fort Leonard Wood Community Resource webpage.
While the installation has traditionally sent leaders to read at local schools, COVID-19 safety measures required the celebration to be socially distanced this year.
Capt. Zeke Dodd, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, Capt. Joseph Lonergan, 14th Military Police Brigade, and Staff Sgt. Angela Burns, 31st Engineer Battalion, read three children’s books at the Bruce C. Clarke Library.
“I love teaching children to read,” Burns said. “It helps them develop a sense of self and self-awareness. Reading is so important because it gives the brain time to determine its own thoughts on the subject they are reading about.”
She said she began reading heavily as a young adult and subsequently started on a quest to collect a library of her own.
“I started collecting books for a library when I was 20,” Burns said. “That has led me into a 20-year quest to acquire books on as many subjects as possible in the strange event that the digital world ever suffered. I wanted to make my mark in this world by having the ability to promote knowledge.”
Joyce Waybright, the library’s chief of community services, said parents should encourage their children to become voracious readers from an early age.
“Set a time to read or let the child read or listen to books,” Waybright advised parents. “It is something that will be with you forever. It is the basis for all learning and will enrich your life as well as support life-long education.”
Waybright, who grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla., said although she was not a fan of reading aloud in class as a child, it wasn’t for a lack of skill. She credits her mother with facilitating her growth.
“I read just about all the books in the children's section of the old Carnegie library and had to go with my mom to get permission to get a library card for the adult library at about age 12,” she said.
Read Across America Day began in 1998 as a coordinated, nationwide effort to encourage reading in children and teenagers through a series of events and partnerships.
“America’s children are the kite strings that keep our national ambitions aloft,” said President Joseph Biden in the national proclamation. “The more we do today to spark their curiosity, their confidence and their imaginations, the stronger our country will be tomorrow.”
To watch any of the pre-recorded readings, visit the fort’s PAO page at https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/Garrison/pao/cr/raad.
To read the full presidential proclamation on Read Across America Day, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/03/01/a-proclamation-on-read- across-america-day-2021/.