For some kids and teens, developing a love of reading can be difficult. After their family experienced this firsthand, siblings Alana, Jacob and Reuben Blumenstein founded KidsRead2Kids.com to help promote both the love of reading, as well as access to reading for youth and adults alike.
KidsRead2Kids is a web-based platform that provides visitors with read-aloud, abridged versions of literary classics – everything from “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” to “Jane Eyre” to “Alice in Wonderland.” And, in line with KidsRead2Kids mission, the readings are performed by a diverse team of young readers.
As a child, Jacob, now 15, was diagnosed with dyslexia. Inspired by the support he received and resources available to him, he became determined to help provide other kids with learning differences the same opportunities he’d had. “It was a really big struggle for me. I felt like I was alone, like I was different from everyone else,” said Jacob. “When I figured out I had dyslexia, it kind of made sense. So here at KidsRead2Kids we wanted to help people who have the same type of problems, but don’t have the resources, to get to the point where I got to.”
Alana, Jacob and Reuben want other kids, and even adults, to know that while it may not come easily, it is still possible to overcome those hurdles and learn to love reading. “Whenever we get feedback from moms and kids saying that our site has helped them, even if we can help just one person, it’s rewarding to us,” said Alana. “We just want to make sure that kids that are dealing with these issues feel empowered and safe, and that no child ever feels alone or that they’re the only one dealing with what they’re dealing with. We’re here too and we’ve all had the same struggles, and a lot of our readers have learning issues too, so they’re not alone. We want to give them that hope, possibility and empowerment.”
KidsRead2Kids truly is a family affair for Alana, Jacob and Reuben. While everyone still collaborates in all aspects of the organization, each of the siblings has a particular specialty. 17-year-old Alana does a lot of work with coordinating volunteers and readings, writing website copy, and generating blog and newsletter content. Jacob also works with coordinating volunteers, but his specialty is more on the technical side. He likes to edit videos, make sure various logistics are up to date, and he even wrote a song to go with one of their videos. And the youngest, 11-year-old Reuben, likes working on the artistic side of the organization and designed KidsRead2Kids’ logo.
“When you’re reading you can truly be a superhero,” said Reuben. “You can be several different people in several different places, several different time periods, all because you’re reading.”
KidsRead2Kids has been so well received in the community, C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has begun using the website to read to patients when their parents and loved ones aren’t able to. Since it launched in mid-June, KidsReadtoKids.com has had more than 3,000 viewers from 44 countries around the world. The website has also been promoted by various groups like the International Dyslexia Association and Dyslexia Malaysia.
“A lot of people can feel alone and it’s important that everyone needs to know they all have a voice,” said Jacob. “It doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are, you have a voice and everyone should do their best to help the world.”
When it comes to volunteering with their family, Alana, Jacob and Reuben love it. Alana said, “we have a lot of fun and we work really hard, but we work really well together.”