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Darmstadt Middle School Principal Dr. Liz Dunham, left, and the elementary school principal, Dr. Russ Claus, watch Pam Landers read to her 8½-month-old daughter, Madeline. Pam Landers was asked to be the honorary chairperson of the new Books for Babies program starting up in Darmstadt’s Department of Defense schools. The book given to Madeline was the first presented under the program.
Darmstadt Middle School Principal Dr. Liz Dunham, left, and the elementary school principal, Dr. Russ Claus, watch Pam Landers read to her 8½-month-old daughter, Madeline. Pam Landers was asked to be the honorary chairperson of the new Books for Babies program starting up in Darmstadt’s Department of Defense schools. The book given to Madeline was the first presented under the program. (Jessica Inigo / S&S)

DARMSTADT, Germany — Ensuring that children speak well, have the best reading and writing skills and can comprehend the most grueling dialogues as adults is as easy as A, B, C.

That’s the idea behind the new Books for Babies program, which is based on studies that show children who begin reading at very young ages make brighter adults.

To promote the idea, Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Darmstadt has started delivering children’s books to newborn babies throughout the community.

The first recipient of the program was 8½-month-old Madeline Landers, who received a book at her home in the Santa Barbara housing community in Darmstadt on Thursday.

Baby Maddie unwrapped the “I Love My Mommy” book, which is nearly as large as she is, with a little help from her own mommy, Pam Landers.

Right away, mother and child dived into the brightly colored book and thanked Darmstadt schools principals Dr. Russ Claus, from the elementary school, and Dr. Liz Dunham, of the middle school, for the book.

Pam Landers, who is a teacher and holds a master’s degree in reading, was asked by the principals to be the honorary chairperson of the new program and help deliver books to all new additions to the Darmstadt community.

“I’m thrilled to be doing this,” said Landers, who came to the community in June with her husband, Lt. Col. Mark Landers, the 233rd Base Support Battalion commander.

Parents and new children will be honored at school assemblies, according to the principals, and then given a new book donated by the Parent Teacher Organization.

Claus said this program came about as an appendage to the Department of Defense Education Activity reading program to reinforce the reading process and promote how important it is.

Dunham said that at her school the standard for children is at least 25 books per year with the Tiger Reading Olympics program. She said students who make the standard get the bronze, while those who exceed the standard could go for the gold.

“Reading starts in the home,” Claus said. “Parents ask, ‘What can I do to help?’ This program tells parents what to do before school starts. There’s nothing better than reading to children.”

Dunham added that reading is the easiest way to ensure a brighter future for children.

“You can never start too early,” she said.

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