PV2 Aysha Sweilem

Pvt. Aysha Sweilem, 91st Eng. Bn., 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div., reads “The Grumpy Monkey” to Martin Walker Elementary students. Martin Walker is the school assigned to the battalion through the adopt-a-unit program.

COPPERAS COVE — Sharing stories often begins with reading aloud. Reading aloud provides a number of opportunities and benefits for children of all ages, from strengthening their vocabulary to increasing their attention span.

With Fort Hood adopted unit service members not being able to mentor students due to off-campus instruction, Soldiers are using technology to connect with the kids.

Several military units partnered with CCISD schools are videotaping their Soldiers reading children’s books targeted at elementary school-age children. The readings are then shared with students via the school district’s learning management system, Schoology, and through social media platforms.

Pvt. Aysha Sweilem was the first Soldier of the 91st Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, to read to Martin Walker Elementary students as part of the unit’s Saber Reading Program.

“I was motivated to read because that is a hobby. I wanted to share my love of reading with others despite how awkward I am reading out loud,” Sweilem said. “I also wanted to remind others that reading is a great way to detox from social media during self-quarantine. It helps the individual with reflection and improvement.”

It was a purposeful decision that Sweilem chose to read the book, “The Grumpy Monkey.”

“In the book, Jim perfectly reflects how people are feeling during this time. It is normal and okay to be feeling negatively sometimes and this book lets the reader know that,” Sweilem said. “During this pandemic a lot of kids and youth initially feel happy that they didn’t have to go to school. However, eventually they start feeling isolated and are separated from their friends. So, it is hard for them to cope with that unaccustomed feeling of loneliness.”

District Librarian Roseanne Dietze encourages students to take advantage of the readings aloud that their teachers are doing and providing via video and encourages parents to read to their children.

“Take advantage of the opportunity to read at this time,” Dietze said. “The more students read,” the more they will improve academically in all subjects.

A story is available nightly through Bulldawg Bedtime that airs nightly on CCISD Bulldawg Radio. Families can tune in to listen at www.ccisd.com/radio.

Until the pandemic has ended and summer has come and gone, Sweilem looks forward to the opportunity to mentor again with the students.

“I really miss being around the energy that the kids always have,” Sweilem said. “They motivate and get me hyped to be there with them. Its always fun. That’s why I can’t wait to go back.”