+
More

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

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

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?

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

Keep ReadingShow less