FORT HOOD — With her husband deployed, Kayla Green looks for ways to connect with the community around her.

Even though her two children are too young to read on their own, Green said they love story time.

“With early literacy, we’re trying to get him into books,” Green said of Railen, her 2-year-old son. “That way when he gets older, he’ll be better at reading.”

Railen was among about 85 military children who attended a “Tell Me a Story” event Tuesday evening at III Corps Headquarters.

The literacy-based event was sponsored by the nonprofit Military Child Education Coalition’s Parent to Parent program.

“It’s all about focusing on the needs of our military children,” said Nicole Penland, a member of the Fort Hood Parent to Parent program. “They were designed to empower military children by using literature and their own stories in a way that builds strong peer and parent connections and fosters resilience in children.”

Before breaking away into small groups and building their own mini-parachutes, the children gathered around two pilots who read “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot,” by Margot Theis Raven.

The true story is based on “chocolate bombers” who dropped gum and candy to starving children in Berlin during World War II.

“The American citizens heard about it and they began to ship candy to them to use,” Penland said. “It’s a wonderful story and for military children now. It gives them a sense of pride ... (and) realize these kids, even though it was a very difficult time, they were able to get some hope and able to live through it and survive.”

Sgt. Derek Bannasch, 1st Cavalry Division Band, brought his two sons to the event. “This is great,” he said. “Our kids love to read and they love stories, so we’re always looking for opportunities to take them out to stuff like (this).”

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7553. Follow her on Twitter at SarahRafique or "like" Sarah Rafique.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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