Teen's shot of soldier reading at Lakewood bookstore goes viral
There’s a soldier who regularly reads to a child via the Internet from the Lakewood Barnes & Noble cafe.
Hannah Pancho wants to know his story.
The 16-year-old took an iPhone photo of his ritual June 28 while perusing the store with her sister and friends. The picture since has received exposure on Facebook, been posted at MSN.com and garnered more than 2,000 comments on the social networking website Reddit.
“I saw that he had a book and he was reading, and then I could hear the child’s voice,” said Pancho, who comes from a military family. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, guys, this is so sweet,’ and I started to cry.”
She posted the photo on Facebook, and one of her friends put it on Reddit, where it seemed to get the most attention.
“He unintentionally touched so many people because of that small act of his,” she added.
That includes Amanda Noll, the author of the picture book the soldier was reading, “I Need My Monster.”
“I would love to give him a copy,” said Noll, of Spanaway. “I’m guessing that it’s an opportunity to have access to books and Wi-Fi, and possibly that he doesn’t own a copy.”
Noll heard about the photo from family in Australia, and has posted on Facebook and shown the photo to her friends at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to try to find the man.
She hasn’t had any luck.
Her book, which she says is popular with the 8-and-younger crowd, chronicles the trials of a child whose beloved monster goes missing.
Pancho doesn’t know the age or gender of the child the soldier is reading to in the photo, but she thinks he or she also has an adored fiend.
“I think he was saying goodbye, and he said, ‘Say hi to your little monster for me,’” she recalled.
While she’d like to meet the man in her photo, Pancho is a little nervous about his reaction. She said she didn’t mean for the picture to go viral.
“I feel bad, because I kind of took a picture of his little moment, and then it got so popular,” she said, adding she tried to take the photo without the soldier noticing, to avoid interrupting.
But that won’t deter her from continuing her search. Baristas at the Barnes & Noble told her the soldier is a regular there.
“We’re excited about the picture,” store manager Rhonda Logerman said. “We find it very heartwarming that he chooses to sit and read with his kid. Military is a very strong part of our business.”
She said store employees have no contact information for the man, but they know who he is and will pass on Pancho’s contact information next time he comes in. Pancho hopes that will happen before she leaves Saturday for a monthlong mission to Panama.
The photo started as a moment that touched her, but now she has a message she’d like to deliver.
“I just want to thank him for his service and that he’s not ashamed to be a dad,” she said.