MSU group wants to record military parents reading books for children

Broadcasting majors at Minot State University are making it easier for military moms and dads to read a bedtime story to their children even while they’re deployed far away.

Audra Myerchin’s COMM 324: Community Relations” class is collecting children’s picture books through March 31 and will offer service members an opportunity to record themselves reading the books in the university’s recording studio. The students will then edit the recordings and give the service member a copy of the recording and the book, which could contain a message from parent to child.

There are collection bins for the books located at Old Navy, Main Street Books, Minot Air Force Base, Goodwill, Minot Public Library, MSU Post Office, Beaver Brew Cafe, Arrowhead Mall and Restore. The books are being collected through March 31.

“It’s an easy way to give back,” said student Josh Zimmer, who comes from a military family and said he wishes his father had been able to record a book for him to listen to when he was a child and his dad was away on a long deployment. “Going six months to a year without hearing that parent’s voice really changes a child.”

Student Katrina Leintz said that, while it is a fairly easy thing for the class to do, it might have a lasting impact on a military family.

The worst case scenario when a service member is deployed is that he or she won’t be able to come home, said Myerchin. In case of a tragedy, the child will have a lasting recording of his or her parent’s voice. The best case scenario is that the parent will return home after an absence and the child will have the recorded book to listen to again and again while Mom or Dad is away. An audio recording might also help very young children remember their parents’ voices, said Myerchin and the students.

Myerchin said she suggested the project to her class after she was approached by people from the Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning and Minot’s RSVP. Students have spent the semester organizing the “Reading for Rugrats,” speaking with business owners, making contact with community groups and arranging for publicity.

The Community Relations class, which has been offered for about three years at Minot State, teaches students about the importance of civic engagement and being active in the community, said Myerchin.

The students said they would like to acquire a large collection of donated children’s books so that the service members will have a good selection to choose from that will match a particular child’s interests. The donated picture books should be geared toward babies through 6-year-olds, have pictures and be easy for an adult to read in 10 minutes or less.

Students said they will invite service members to make the audio recordings through April. Myerchin is hoping to arrange for service members from Minot Air Force Base who are about to be deployed to do the audio recordings sometime next week, since they might not be here to do it in April.

Myerchin said the service would also be available to parents who are incarcerated, if any service groups that work with people in jail are interested in contacting the class.

“I think the idea behind “Reading for Rugrats” is very unique and can leave a great impact on these families,” said Josh Sandy, a public relations major. “I encourage everyone to take time to donate a book to help out this project.”