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First Book

Last year, librarian Rajeeni Galloway met a student that others had already deemed a lost cause.

This student's record was riddled with suspensions, and her grades had suffered so much that she could no longer keep up. She was failing.

Galloway knew all too well what was at risk if the student didn’t get help. She decided to step in.


Luckily, Galloway specializes in helping struggling kids, not just with their current classes, but also to identify and fill in the gaps from their earlier education. "Those early skills are so integral," she says. They can also be much harder to teach kids later in life.

Through intense work and mentoring, the student started to improve. Before long, she began to excel.

"Now she’s on the honor roll," Galloway says. In fact, she’ll be graduating this year — a full year ahead of schedule.

Galloway works hard to get her kids the resources they need to succeed. Photo courtesy of Rajeeni Galloway, used with permission.

This student was lucky. Many others don’t have access to this kind of help and support.

And, unlike Galloway’s students, their futures can be a lot bleaker.

Without the proper help, students’ educational struggles continue. They start to fail classes. Their frustrations build and they begin to act out. They get into trouble both in and out of school.

Ultimately, many kids who struggle drop out — and it only gets worse from there. Once a student fails academically, it often leads to failures throughout the rest of their life.

High school dropouts are three and a half times more likely to be arrested and eight times more likely to get jailed than people who get their degree. Young women who drop out of high school are nine times more likely to be or become single mothers. Dropouts are also more likely to end up on some sort of government assistance.

Galloway leads a class in the library. Photo by Washington Teacher's Union.

How do we prevent high school dropouts? Teach kids to read.

Early literacy in particular is important in keeping kids engaged in school through graduation, Galloway says.

That’s because kids who struggle with reading will struggle with concepts in every other subject, and by the time they’ve reached high school, their academic struggles have become a compound problem: one that started with reading but has now branched out to include every subject they encounter.

But with more than half of U.S. public school students coming from low-income families, many kids don’t have access to the tools they need in order to learn how to read in the first place.

Vast "book deserts," or low-income communities without bookstores or libraries, can mean that kids have literally no way to get their hands on a book — much less one that’s the right reading level for them. In some families, parents are too busy working to keep food on the table to read to their kids at night. Low-income kids simply don’t have what they need to start reading early.

Galloway's students love to read. Photo courtesy of Rajeeni Galloway, used with permission.

That’s why Galloway’s district works with First Book to make sure that kids are supported throughout their literacy journey.

To combat book deserts, First Book provides brand new books and resources at low or no cost to educators serving kids in need, so that income is never the reason a child doesn't have access to books.

Galloway’s school also provides resources for parents to provide academic nurturing at home. "We have parent workshops where parents come in, especially in elementary school, and we show parents different strategies to support students at home," she says.

In addition, First Book reports significant progress in increasing kids' interest in reading by making sure they provide not just any books, but books that are diverse and relevant, that speak to kids of all ages, and that help kids see the positivity reading can bring into their lives. When children can read, they can tap into their potential — no matter their circumstances.

Increasing access to books could be the first step to solving a lot of our nation’s most pressing social problems.

Most kids who don’t learn to read come from low-income backgrounds, and, as Galloway’s teaching experience shows, those who never learn to read are at risk of remaining stuck in that cycle of poverty.

By increasing access to books and reading resources at a young age, organizations like First Book could be helping solve not just the literacy issue, but also issues like income inequality, incarceration, welfare dependency, and more, which are deeply connected to early literacy and education.

So next time you see a kid with a book, know that it’s not just for fun. Sometimes, it’s for survival.

Millions of children from low-income areas don’t have the tools needed to learn, placing them at a disadvantage that perpetuates poverty. First Book is a community that believes education is the way out of poverty for kids in need.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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