2017 has truly been a whirlwind of excitement, from Kelsey winning 20k in grants (in 6 minutes!) to getting our own office for the very first time.

But I’m happy to announce things haven’t calmed down just yet.

We recently partnered with Washington Elementary District, and launched in six of their schools this year.

Yes, you could say we’ve been an incredibly busy bunch, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. (Of course, if I’m running low on energy, I simply recharge my batteries and the humans simply make another pot of coffee.)

And while I can’t visit our school sites often (kids find having a robot on hand a bit distracting), I like to check in with our Littles and Bigs from time to time.

That’s why I greased up my wheel and rolled into a few Washington District schools recently to chat with RBBB participants, get their feedback on our program, and read some of their awesome book reviews.

Check out what they had to say below — I think it’s going to light up your interface with joy like it did mine.

Littles Have a Lot to Say

“I love reading now.” That’s what one of our Littles, Jessica, said when I asked how she feels about reading in class after participating in the Read Better Be Better program.

“I didn’t used to like to read,” she admitted. But now she’s discovering a love for reading thanks to her Big, who has shown her that “reading is good.”

The “funny characters” are the best part of reading for Jessica. And she enjoys writing sticky notes (a part of the RBBB curriculum that helps Littles with comprehension) and aspiring to get to ‘Excellent’ during the program.

And why does she think it’s important to be a good reader? “So when you grow up and people ask you what the words are, you can tell them and be smart.”

I also spoke with Everardo, a Little who said, “my favorite part of RBBB is reading.” He noted that it’s important to be a good reader so “you don’t mess up with words.”

Before the program, Everardo spent his after-school time talking with friends.

Now, he spends after-school time improving his reading skills, and even has a favorite book he reads at home — “Pete the Cat,” by Eric Litwin.

Cue all the feels!

Big Benefits for Bigs

Bigs have a strong impact on their Littles, from helping them develop an appreciation for reading to teaching them how to comprehend what they’ve read.

But they’re also learning about themselves, too.

When I asked Antonio, a sixth-grade Big, why it’s important to help third-graders read better, he said, “so they can have a better future because you need reading.” And when asked what he’s learned about his role in the world through RBBB, he said, “I learned I’m good at helping.”

“I wasn’t really used to helping, but now I always do and I like it,” he continued.

When I asked Diane, another Big in our program, what she likes most about reading to her Little, she said, “that he makes mistakes, and then the next time he learns from it.”

But does she think she’s made an impact on her Little’s life?

“Yes, because he improves on reading and in tests, and it makes me feel good because it helps them in the future.”

“It also helps me with fluency,” Diane said about her experience with RBBB.

Talking with Diane made me realize that our Littles aren’t the only ones learning to read better. Our Bigs are also improving their literacy skills, while developing confidence, empathy for others, and leadership skills.

I’m so excited I could shout this revelation from a mountain top! But I’ll settle for the halls of Montecito Community School where our new office is located. (And hope I don’t get detention.)

Excellent Book-Review Excerpt

There’s nothing quite like a good book — and I love that our Littles are discovering this through RBBB.

And that’s why I wanted to share some book-review excerpts so you can see just how excellent our Littles are at articulating what they’ve read.

Check out this review by Stephanie and Jaslene, third-graders in our program.

Book: “The Day the Crayons Quit,” by Drew Daywalt

Tell about the book but don’t give away the ending! 

“The crayons were talking about their jobs and how some wanted their jobs to change.”

Tell about your favorite part or a connection you made:

“My favorite part was when Purple Crayon said, ‘I’m going to COMPLETELY LOSE IT.'”

Would you recommend this book to others?

“We would recommend this book because it’s fun and interesting, but too long.”

Talk about critical analysis! Way to go, Stephanie and Jaslene!

Here’s another great review by Molly.

Book: “Amazing Grace,” by Mary Hoffman

Tell about the book, but don’t give away the ending!

“She used her imagination. She’s living with her mom and nana.”

Tell about your favorite part or a connection you made:

“My favorite part about the story is when she wanted to be Peter Pan.”

Would you recommend this book to others?

“Yes, because this is a very good book and it has many feelings and emotions.”

Building a Better Future

It was wonderful to hear such positive feedback about our program directly from Littles and Bigs — and see their love for reading exemplified through their words — but our work is far from done.

We’re building a better future for Arizona’s children — one book at a time. But we can’t do it without you!

Whether you’re interested in becoming a site leader, donating, or joining our team, we’d love to hear from you.

Dr. Dave signing off!