Friday 24th July 2020
The Reading Force charity supports serving and ex-serving Forces families to share books and chat about them as a way to stay close and connected during deployments and to enjoy books together when at home. The ‘read and chat’ initiative gives books and special scrapbooks to tri-service families and is proven to help improve communication within families.
The Rowlands are an RAF family – Dad is a firefighter in the RAF, keeping fighter pilots safe. Mum Suzanne discovered Reading Force for daughters Katie and Sophie, now 10 and 14, and the family have participated since 2009, talking about the books they’re reading with Dad when he’s deployed away from home, sometimes for six months at a time.
This Sky film documents what it’s like for Katie and Sophie when their father is deployed, how they’ve used Reading Force to stay connected with him, and how they have enjoyed connecting through shared reading together at home during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“Receiving Reading Force parcels is something to look forward to when your parent is away. Filming the report was fun and exciting – it’s a good way to show people what Reading Force is all about because it is coming from someone who enjoys reading and may help someone else.” Katie and Sophie
Reading Force posts books to children and gives colourful scrapbooks in which families can collate their thoughts about the book they have shared, in notes, letters, drawings and photographs. Sharing a book and chatting about it creates good communication, helps families stay in touch with extended family or a parent if separated by distance, divorce, or family breakdown, soothes and keeps continuity during difficult or disruptive periods. The charity has been pleased to support a massive increase (up 900%!) in families signing up to take part during lockdown.
Best of all families report they enjoy taking part and sharing books for pleasure! Families can do Reading Force at home together or over Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp if separated. Every child who participates receives the prize of a book and a special certificate.
The film will be on FYI on Sky News at 10.30am and 4.30pm this Saturday and 10.30am this Sunday.
Reading Force was launched by Professor Alison Baverstock, a soldier’s wife for 30 years. She had the simple but effective brainwave that all military families could connect by sharing books and chatting about them to keep family members communicating well during challenging times. In 2011 Reading Force was piloted in Aldershot, home of the British Army, with the addition of a scrapbook, which families could fill with their thoughts about the book shared. The pilot was a success and impacted families positively. Reading Force has expanded to become a national charity, supporting tri-service military families, ex-Forces families, cadets and reservists, throughout the UK and posted overseas.