THESE Carterton children are used to being separated from their parents.

As families where one or more parent is involved in the armed forces, the youngsters have become used to their main contact being through Skype, email or telephone for months at a time.

Now a project has been launched to help service families keep in touch – and encourage a love of reading at the same time.

Reading Force was trialled in Aldershot last year and has now been spread to other areas, including Oxfordshire, where there are a large number of service personnel.

Chris Davies, from Carterton Community College, said: “There aren’t too many schools in the country that have the proportion of forces families that we do.

“Reading can be a way for families to share and communicate and keep in touch when tensions are placed on families when they are posted overseas or even elsewhere in the UK.”

Families choose a book, read it, discuss it and compile a scrapbook together based on their thoughts.

Mr Davies said between 200 and 300 pupils at the school had links to the armed forces, through nearby RAF Brize Norton, and he was keen to get at least half involved in the scheme.

He said: “There is a desire to communicate with loved ones when they are away but there can be an absence of things to talk about.

“Kids and parents will be able to talk about things other than just the mundane and maybe deflect from stressful aspects of the separation to talk about literature.”

Reading Force has suggested some books, including The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne but organisers want families to make their own choices too.

Lauren Full, 13, is among the youngsters who will be taking part.

Her father, Sgt Kevin Full, is being posted to the Ascension Islands towards the end of the month.

She said: “I think it's really good because it brings the family together and you can discuss books with them if you’re away. Sometimes when you’re having a conversation it’s just small talk, but if we are reading a book together we can talk about things we’re both interested in.”

Rachel Walker’s father, aircraft technician Gavin Walker, and stepfather John Turkentine are in the RAF.

The 13-year-old said: “You kind of run out of things to say sometimes, so it gives you something to talk about. I think we will try and race to finish the book. I will win of course.”

And Aaron Debney, 13, whose father Sgt Nigel Debney work involves refuelling tankers, said: “I think it’s a good scheme because you get to talk about more stuff. My dad and I both like mystery stories.”

Prizes will be available for the best scrapbooks.