Book Buddies

Buddy Reading

UDL 5.3

Book Buddies is a collaborative reading strategy that pairs primary readers with intermediate mentor students in order to build community across grade levels. Book Buddies blends social interaction with literacy activities that can be used in cross grade level partnerships (e.g., shared reading, read aloud, echo reading). This strategy begins with teachers from separate grade level classrooms meeting to plan partnerships to help manage student interactions and to choose a convenient and consistent time for Book Buddies to meet and build a routine. Buddies meet at least 1-2 times per month. During each visit, partnerships spread out around the classroom and enjoy one-on-one reading time together. Book Buddies helps all students build confidence and a love for reading as each partnership bonds and grows together.

Implementation Tips

Meet with the cooperating teacher (e.g., a 3rd grade teacher and a Kindergarten teacher) to determine which students will be paired together as buddies. Consider student social skills, reading levels, and attentiveness while planning partnerships. Make threesomes if there is an odd number of students to pair, or if the intermediate teacher feels that a particular student might need support while mentoring a primary student throughout the Book Buddies process.
Introduce the Book Buddies strategy before the two classes meet by having intermediate students brainstorm what the roles of a reading mentor should be. Create a large chart labeled “Traits of Success That a Mentor Displays,” and jot down the ideas that students generate that describe traits a mentor should display towards a primary buddy (e.g., “I think mentors should demonstrate patience when a buddy doesn’t understand something I am trying to teach them.”).
Choosing Texts
Support text selections by reminding intermediate students to choose books that encourage interaction (e.g., lively characters, humorous tone, teaches a lesson), and books that are age appropriate for primary students. Allow students to bring in favorite storybooks from home or let them borrow picture books from the classroom. Monitor student text selections and prepare options for students that forget to prepare a text. For a list of accredited primary read alouds, sort by age on this free [[ | Scholastic list ]].
Engaging Buddies
Engage Book Buddies by creating a playful atmosphere and providing choice throughout visitations (e.g., invite buddies to create a secret handshake, let partnerships choose where they want to sit with their buddies in the classroom, vary who chooses books for each visitation). Coach “big buddies” to project their voices, pace their reading, and encourage interaction with their “little buddy.” Remind “big buddies” not to drill “little buddies” when checking for comprehension.
Extension Activity
Allow partnerships to create their own storybooks together before the last Book Buddies visitation. Buddies collaboratively determine the setting, characters, and plot, or recreate their own version of a text that was previously read together (e.g., recreating the Goldilocks and the Three Bears with a different setting and characters). For free printable storybook paper samples, click [[ | here ]].
Host A Celebration
Host a celebration for Book Buddies after mentoring sessions are completed. Primary students are expected to prepare thank you card to present to their “big buddy” and intermediate students are expected to write accomplishment letters to their “little buddy.” Provide partnerships with several minutes to read their cards and letters to one another. Light refreshments and a treat can be supplied, and partnerships can participate in a “Gallery Walk” of the self-made storybooks.
ELL Support
Provide opportunities for ELL students to participate in Book Buddies experiences as a way to let students practice their new language in a gratifying, low-pressure setting (e.g., ELL students still get the honor of being a role model and mentor, feeling less pressure since they are reading primary picture books).


Engaging Shared Read Alouds
During Book Buddies, a partnership chooses a corner on the rug and sits side-by-side with the book in the middle. The “big buddy” reads The Quiet Christmas Book by Deborah Underwood and invites their “little buddy” to join in, whispering the word “quiet” every time to word repeatedly pops up in the text. The “little buddy” begins to anticipate and giggle each time they act out the word together. When a surprising moment happens (i.e., the shattering of Christmas ornaments), the “big buddy” asks engagement questions (e.g., “Did you expect that to happen?! Why did those ornaments fall?”). After, the partnership reflects together on the text (e.g., summarize, share likes and dislikes).
Primary Centered Reading Practice
After Book Buddies have met several times, teachers explain that “little buddies” will be leading the upcoming visitation. When buddies meet, read alouds shift and become primary centered as “little buddies” read to their “big buddies.” Primary students read predetermined, leveled books from their book baggies to practicing fluency, decoding, and intonation. Intermediate students offer support and prompts when needed (e.g., “Use the picture to help you make sense of the word and then look at the first letter.”) and give compliments to boost readers’ confidence (e.g., “I really like how you made your voice deep for the troll and how you read at a good pace.”).

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