It takes courage to open up about learning and thinking differences. It takes even greater courage to do it as a teenager.
For 15-year-old Jacob Blumenstein, reading hasn’t always come easily. He says he didn’t learn how to read until the fourth grade. Jacob has dyslexia.
“It took me a long time to accept my difficulties,” Jacob said. “Learning to read that far in life was embarrassing.”
Jacob isn’t the only one in his family with learning and thinking differences. His brother Reuben has and his sister Julia also has dyslexia.
“I wanted to create something that would help other people who were in my position.” Jacob shared, “We wanted them to be able to get to where I am.”
The website is a team effort and Jacob says its success is only possible because of his siblings’ hard work. Reuben designed the logo. Julia selects the stories that are added to the site’s library. Their older sister Alana helps to find readers who have success stories of their own.
The Blumensteins believe KidsRead2Kids is the first resource of its kind. On the site, users can pick from a list of real kids to read books to them via video. This is different from the traditional audiobook or text-to-speech experience.
And the readers understand the desire to hear a real person read fluently and with expression: The readers also have learning and thinking differences. That’s an important part of the KidsRead2Kids mission. “Kids are actually listening to kids they can relate to,” Alana said.
Since its launch in June 2017, KidsRead2Kids has welcomed readers from all around the world. They’ve been shared by hundreds of Facebook groups, received messages of appreciation and are even used as a resource by a children’s hospital in Michigan. The team is proud of its accomplishments and is already planning for the future.
Their main goal is to continue helping students with reading issues. But Alana says that more broadly they want to educate the world to know that every kid learns differently.
The team’s mom, Carol, says she’s most proud of the mission to create endless possibilities for all children to succeed.
“Kids with learning differences may feel like they don’t have the possibilities to succeed,” she said. “They have wonderful gifts and just need to learn what works best for them.”
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Tara Drinks is an associate editor at Understood.