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July 27, 2010

Bed Time Stories from Abroad

State legislators and staff take time to bring military families together through books.

Saying goodnight to their children is an opportunity members of the military miss when deployed overseas.

In an effort to bring military families together, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) will take part in the United Through Reading’s Military Program that is hosted by the USO. During NCSL’s annual Legislative Summit, taking place July 25-28 in Louisville, Ky., delegates to the conference will have an opportunity to purchase and donate books for this program.

“This is a great way to let men and women in uniform know we are thinking of them,” said William T. Pound, NCSL’s executive director. “This program is a rewarding service opportunity for our members that will benefit our troops.”

The United Through Reading Military Program connects deployed parents and adults with the special children in their lives. These service men and women will read books aloud while being recorded on DVD. The recorded DVDs, along with the books, are then sent home for the families to watch.

Books for the program may be purchased in NCSL’s bookstore on the first floor of the Kentucky International Convention Center. Several titles will be available, everything from "Green Eggs and Ham" to "Goodnight Moon" to "Charlotte’s Web."

 “When we founded the program during the Persian Gulf war, we knew that there was huge emotional and educational value to connecting children and their deployed parents through reading,” said Sally Ann Zoll, Ed.D, chief executive of United Through Reading. "Our partnership with the USO helps us extend that opportunity to even more beneficiaries.”

The majority of books collected at NCSL’s Legislative Summit will be sent to USO centers in Southwest Asia, where the need is currently the greatest.

This is the first year that NCSL has offered its members the opportunity to participate in United Through Reading’s Military Program.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.

Founded in 1989, United Through Reading was the nation’s first nonprofit to promote the read-aloud experience for separated families. Research shows that the read-aloud experience is a way for children to experience the joy of reading and gain critical learning and communications skills. Over a half million parents, spouses and children have benefited from the nationally acclaimed United Through Reading programs.