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When older siblings read to younger ones, great things happen.

How sibling reading time can make a huge difference in their education.

When older siblings read to younger ones, great things happen.

Often, our brothers and sisters become our first peer group sort of by default.

For some of us, sibling relationships are the longest relationships we'll ever experience. And by interacting with our siblings early on, we learn social skills, like how to manage conflicts (anyone else fight over who gets to sleep next to mom?), how to play, how to share, how to navigate the world, and even how to read.

Photo taken at the Salinas Valley Grows Readers event. Image by Read to Me Project, used with permission.


In fact, our siblings could make the biggest difference when it comes to reading.

That's the whole idea behind the Read to Me Project, which encourages elementary school children to read to their younger siblings — even siblings who are as young as eight months old.

As part of the program, books are donated to schools that choose to participate, and kids can take those books home. They're encouraged to read to their younger siblings, which helps kids boost both their knowledge of vocabulary and language and kickstarts their reading comprehension skills, too.

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images.

When it comes to the older siblings, Sonia Aramburo explains the program helps them feel a sense of responsibility by taking on a whole new role as a teacher to their younger brothers or sisters. She's the principal at El Camino Real Science and Technology Academy in Greenfield, California, one of the schools participating in the Read to Me Project.

This program is much needed, especially in areas with low literacy rates.

A study by the University of California Berkeley and UCLA found that Latino kids between 2 and 3 years old were about eight months behind their white peers when it came to language and cognitive skills. And according to the study, the gap continued through ages 4 and 5, with Latino students entering into kindergarten already behind their peers.

The same is true for African-American kids: One study from the National Center for Education Statistics showed that 50% of African-American fourth graders tested below the most basic literary level.

"We are attacking the root cause of low literacy among Hispanic and indigenous families," Mary De Groat said. She's the associate executive director of the Read to Me Project.

And by all accounts, Read to Me is making big strides to fix this problem.

"It helps our students build their fluency," explained Aramburo. "It's engaging them ... one of our students last year was not reading very well. Now he's reading to his sibling, he's taken on a whole new role, even as a student. You just see this sense of responsibility."

Another teacher noted, "This program should have been available [a] long time ago. Our community will benefit in the long run. Many of our students' parents cannot even read their own language, so our students can be the first step for the next generation to be outstanding readers when they begin their journey in school."

Read to Me launched in 2011 in Monterey County, serving four classrooms with 50 students participating, De Groat said. This year, the program is serving 96 classrooms, with nearly 800 students reading to more than 1,000 of their younger siblings.

And now that they've gotten the ball rolling, it's full steam ahead. De Groat says there are already plans to expand the program.

The kids give the program rave reviews, too.

Adorable "thank you" notes from kids to the Read to Me Project prove that sibling reading time can be fun for all brothers and sisters.

One student explains he likes reading with his kid brother because he's helping him learn English, and he says the program is even inspiring him to try to read by himself.

Another student says his little brother comes running when he sees books:

A note from one of the kids. Image by Read to Me Project, used with permission.

And another says their little sister is learning to pronounce some words because of the shared reading time:

Another student writes a note about her younger sister. Image by Read to Me Project, used with permission.

How cool would it be if more schools across the country implemented the Read to Me Project?

Kids might start school better prepared to learn and more excited about it. Siblings might enjoy educational quality time together.

Jennifer reading to her little brother, Xavier. Image by the Read to Me Project, used with permission.

Plus, books are incredibly rewarding. They allow kids to escape into fantasy worlds by putting their imagination into overdrive. Reading is proven to help children with their speech and communication skills, and it's simply a great foundation for kicking butt in school.

This program makes an excellent argument for putting your older kids in charge of getting your younger kids excited about reading.

Because if your older brother or sister is doing it — it must be cool, right?

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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