Jim Trelease writes in "The Read-Aloud Handbook" that teachers ignore a great reading resource right in their classrooms: other students. He quotes author John Goodlad's exhaustive study, "A Place Called School."
"One of the blind spots in American schooling is our almost complete failure to use peer teaching. In British schools, you see children helping each other. The teacher has 25 assistants, so when a child comes in, a couple of other children take that child over, just as older brothers and sisters in big families do."
Indeed, Trelease writes, "in 45 of 52 studies, students who were tutored by other students outperformed those in comparison groups, with significant improvement in student attitudes."
Trelease also suggests that parents encourage older siblings to read to younger ones and that they make reading aloud one of the tasks of every sitter. "Babysitting today is too expensive to settle for TV watching," he writes.