Supporting families through all times
Reading stories to and with children can be one of the nicest parts of family life. And for Forces families, sharing books can be much more – a way of staying connected when separated, giving continuity during deployment, and comforting children struggling with a move of home or a parent’s absence.
Families regularly tell us about the many ways Reading Force has helped them in all kinds of situations. We hope you’ll find some of their stories relate to your own circumstances.
‘Having a book like this is a great idea for all those that struggle with a deployment and it is also a great way to keep the dad/mum involved in the family no matter where they are.’
Watch how Reading Force helped the Broome Family
How Reading Force can help you & your family
"This is our real life story book, and when we read this book we feel we are the characters in the book. It was so much fun to read the book together. We spent time together, chatted about the pictures and shared our ideas. We had quality family time."
While Saksham's father was deployed for six months, the family used email and Skype to stay in touch, feel closer, and to chat about the book.
Saksham and his family - at home and away - read My Daddy's Going Away by Christopher McGregor because they related to it.
Saksham's father messaged: "Nice Story Saksham, I really like it. I love you, You know I am coming home very soon, not too far away."
"We got to see our family. There were funny bits in the book. It was a really awesome book. We got to send e-mails. We liked drawing and seeing Grandma and Grandad's drawings."
Brothers William and Ben are living in Brunei and miss their grandparents who are in the UK.
They had fun Skyping to chat about the book and set their grandparents drawing challenges based on the book, which they then included in their scrapbook.
They enjoyed emailing their Grandma and Grandad and sent them a series of questions about the book they read for Reading Force, The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis.
"The Reading Force scrapbook was a pleasure to create! It made use of our creative sides but most importantly, brought us together as a family when sometimes it’s so hard to do because of busy lives. Nothing is more important than family and this brought that back into focus. We had a blast making the scrapbook!"
The Maxwell family chose Where the Sidewalk Ends, poems by Shel Silverstein. “We felt one of the best ways to respond to Shel Silverstein’s poetry was to dress up. That was super as it made the kids think about their favourite poem and come up with a way to represent it… and that was fun in itself! Basically we just giggled at each other the whole time.”
The Maxwells are based in Brunei and doing Reading Force created opportunities for them to Skype family. “There are so many times we say ‘Shall we Skype soon?’ that never comes to anything, but because we had a project to do, share and discuss, it ensured we all made the effort to find a date and time for speaking to each other.”
“This was reward in itself; just seeing our cousins, grandparents, nephews and aunts when we live so far away meant that we kept in touch when ordinarily (due to 12 and 15 hour time differences and work schedules, etc.) we might not have made the connection.”
“We are looking forward to the next opportunity to make a Reading Force Scrapbook and share silly moments with our family, both near and far!” Mommy Maxwell
"My daughter is a very reluctant reader and has found it hard living out in Germany so the scrap book was a great motivator, thank you. We would love to do it again and have just finished her free book too."
Jasmine and her family are currently based in Germany.
Her Mum set up a Facebook group so that Jasmine’s friends and family living all over the world could do Reading Force with her.
Jasmine really enjoyed being in touch with family and friends this way.
She also used Facebook to contact the author, Kes Gray (she read Daisy and the Trouble with Life) and got a reply!
Jasmine loved receiving her scrapbook and book in the post, then later her certificate for taking part.
“George loves loves loves reading so this was ideal for us do together. On future deployments we will choose another book and do the same thing. For me this was special as it was something only I did with him, leaving his mum with the school book reading!!”
George’s school understood his anxieties about his Dad coming and going and gave him a Reading Force scrapbook so he could have a focused activity with his Dad while he was away from home.
When George and his Dad did Reading Force they read George’s Marvellous Medicine and made a fantastic scrapbook together (when George’s Dad came home they even made the marvelous medicine!).
“When I was in afghan I could use FaceTime and George would read George's Marvellous Medicine to me then. The last time in Dubai I couldn't get FaceTime and George would either read to me over the phone or send me pictures and letters of what was happening.” Dadad
“It gave us something to talk about, what medicine we would make and who we would give it to. When I came back home and I had finished my front line we made our medicine.” Dadad
“Dadad used funny voices and made reading really fun. We talk about the story and our favourite parts.” George
“Thank you for taking time to look at our scrapbook. Completing it helped myself and my ex-husband have a focus with our children. We all very much enjoyed taking part.”
Isla (6) and Rocco (3) spoke to their Dad on the telephone about their story, Dogs Don’t do Ballet, while he was in Diego Garcia, first reading the story and then discussing it.
At home, Isla and Rocco reread the story with Mum, made puppets, and spent lots of time giggling.
“I think the main thing I will remember is the fun time we had together and the children have realized they can share stories with their Daddy over the phone.” Mummy
“Today I listened to Isla read me her book on the phone as I am in Diego Garcia in the Far East working away with the Royal Marines and I have never heard anything so sweet in my life. I am so proud of her and only wish I was with her right now to give her a big hug and kiss. xx” Email from Daddy
“This book is a great way to escape from your own real life drama.”
Mum and daughter Amie had already started reading The Beach Café by Lucy Diamond as their Reading Force book, when Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Having initially found the book hard to get into, Mum took the book with her to her hospital appointment, and whilst waiting for her test results read much of the book.
With a positive diagnosis the book was left untouched for a couple of weeks, then whilst in hospital for surgery, Mum read more. Meanwhile, daughter Amie was reading to keep up with Mum.
“The book made me feel fantastic, uplifted, happy, romantic. I hope this book makes my daughter as happy as it does me.” Mum
Doing Reading Force gave Mum and Amie something to share and was light relief during a tough and frightening time. “Me and my daughter Amie have talked a great deal about the book while she has been reading it.” Mum
“It was a great thing to do to keep structure and routine, and to keep their Dad in their lives. Being away for seven months is a massive ordeal.”
Katherine’s husband was deployed for seven months. At home with her two daughters she was determined the family would remain in close contact while separated, and when a Reading Force scrapbook was sent home from her daughter’s school, they embraced the idea.
“When I saw the scrapbook I thought it was brilliant. Some structure which is great for the kids, and other pages where you’re free to put in what you want.”
They read Peppa Pig, and emailed the story to Dad so he could read what his daughters were reading at home. Over FaceTime Dad read to his daughters, and they read to him.
“It’s so important for the children to have routine when their Dad’s away, and to have them doing something like this with them was great. He may not have been here to take out the bins, but I said to them, he still does this with you.”
“Reading Force is good for any family, and I would recommend it 110%.”
“Every night we sat on my bed and read the book. After reading it we talked about the book and what we liked and disliked. When we finished the book we filled in this scrapbook for the competition. Also we talked about the characters and how they would of felt. It also made my reading better!”
Danielle read The Secret Hen House Theatre when she did Reading Force. “I chose this book because the first chapter made me want to read more. This was the best book I’ve ever read.”
Danielle found that reading the book helped her improve her reading and she enjoyed experiencing this.
There were many things she liked about doing Reading Force: “I could improve on my reading, it was exciting, and it was nice to end a busy day with a book.’”
Danielle and her twin sister both completed their own scrapbooks. They won the Roald Dahl CD Collection in ‘The April 2015 Scrapbook Competition’.
“It was an absolute joy to share a book together. We were also learning to read some difficult words together.”
Rianka’s friends and their families completed a Reading Force little ones scrapbook on the book of Disney’s Frozen.
Mum said the group of seven ‘created a special bond’ by reading together.
“It was such a fun experience to sit in a comfortable place and read the amazingly wonderful story together.”
“Everyone had their own opinions and thoughts about the characters. We never realized reading together could be this enjoyable. Thank you so much for this memorable experience.”
The group’s first language is Nepali, and they found learning new English words together while reading a fun and positive activity.