Military brats

School Library Journal just tweeted a link to an article titled Military Kids with Deployed Parents Suffer Academically, Study Says. The study reports that elementary and middle school students whose parents are deployed for more than 19 months show declined reading scores. This is the type of study that gets my little librarian heart beating, and not just because I sympathize with the children whose mom or dad (of Heaven forbid, both) is gone for such a long period of time. But because it gives librarians near military bases a goal: fix that decline.

An author interviewed for the article believes that getting the child to candidly talk about the deployment (or just talk, period) is a way to fix the emotional and psychological problems that coincide with being the child of a deployed soldier/Marine/sailor. So how do we do this?

I literally just Googled library programs for military children and received 1.2 million results. The best I read are as follows:

1. Blue Star Families, an organization that supports military families, started the Books on Bases program that donates books to children of military families in an effort to “to positively impact the lives of military children through the power of reading”. They visited the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek Libraries in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, VA earlier this month.

2. The Department of Defense last year started its very first Summer Reading program called Voyage to Book Island. Its program is similar to most public library SR programs, including using a reading log to track time spent/pages read, doles out prizes, and hosts events. No report yet on if the DOD plans on re-creating the effort for Summer 2011.

…and that is it.

Some libraries have collections of childrens books on the topics of deployment, relocation, death of a loved one, etc. But in my hours worth of searching, I did not find anything about actual events, plans, or ideas to help/work with children during a parent’s deployment. Even worse, I did not find anything from non-military base libraries. Are public libraries just expecting military base libraries to pick up that duty? Or do they not realize that there is a population with this specific need?

So here is my challenge…come up with programming ideas for children of deployed parents that encourages them to read and to talk. Lets zero-out that decline in reading points and get these kids talking. I will post updates as I have ideas both from myself or those I talk to.

Annnnnnnd go!

2 Thoughts

  1. Children elementary and middle school are just learning how to express themselves emotionally. The child is smart enough to understand that when a parent is gone the household tends to be a bit more hectic, and sometimes they do not feel that they are able to discuss their feelings as it may bring further pain to the single parent. My Idea: start a weekly/bi-weekly reading program for specific age-groups. Read a book about emotions and then discuss the book as part of themselves. As those children about their feelings and bring up the deployment. Even young children sometimes do not want to talk about their feelings with their parents so this would give them an open forum to vent some of their fears, frustrations, anxieties to those who also understand how they feel and are in their own age groups. Just my thoughts…

  2. I appreciate your thoughts, Amanda. Especially since you went through them as a child. Good idea on the book discussion group. The good thing about discussing a book and its characters is just that…they are characters. So while the child/reader can relate, they can do it maybe without realizing it…therefore helping them cope, but not directly. Does that make sense?

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