Strategy

Reading Buddies

Book Buddies

UDL 5.3

Reading Buddies is an early literacy strategy in which students select a stuffed animal to “read” a book to in order to practice early reading skills with confidence and comfort. First, the teacher gathers several stuffed animals and places them in a labeled container or designated area of the classroom. When introducing the strategy, the teacher establishes that the stuffed animals are to be read to, and models the procedure of reading to a Reading Buddy. Each student then selects a stuffed animal and takes it to a quiet area of the classroom to practice reading. While beginning readers read to their Reading Buddies, pre-readers practice early reading strategies, such as pointing to sight words, describing illustrations, or talking about the story elements from memory. Reading Buddies encourage young students to practice critical new skills in a fun and relaxed manner, reducing intimidation related to the early stages of reading.

Implementation Tips

Setting Expectations
Model appropriate behaviors and discuss expectations for Reading Buddies so that students practice behaviors of good readers and gain confidence in their reading abilities (e.g., “How should you sit with your Reading Buddy?”).
Reinforcing Expectations
Create a visual aid, such as an anchor chart, to display expectations for how to use Reading Buddies (e.g., 1. Choose a Reading Buddy and a book. 2. Put your buddy in your lap or next to you. 3. Read your book to your buddy. 4. Read the whole time and stay in one place.).
Obtaining Reading Buddies
Gather a variety of stuffed animals that students can choose to read to (e.g., dogs, teddy bears and other animals) that make them feel comfortable. Bring in stuffed animals from home, look for deals at discount stores or garage sales, or ask for optional parent donations.
Monitoring Students
Facilitate Reading Buddies by circulating and monitoring student behaviors. Encourage students to practice behaviors of strong readers (e.g., “Think about what strong readers do.”; “How would you read this to your younger sister?”).
Differentiating Support
Support students’ reading by providing 1-on-1, differentiated instruction to meet students’ individual needs (e.g., “How did you figure out that word?”; “What do you think is happening in this picture?”).
Encouraging Students
Provide students with positive feedback and ask questions so that they have joyful, engaging experiences that make them develop a love of reading (e.g., “I love how your Reading Buddy is sitting right next to you.”; “You did a great job using the pictures to figure out that word!”).
Daily Practice
Encourage students to read daily by allowing them to use Reading Buddies to practice reading skills during choice time and independent reading time (e.g., “During independent reading time today, you may read by yourself or with a Reading Buddy.”).

Examples

Introducing Reading Buddies
In an early learning classroom, the teacher notices that many students are reluctant to practice reading independently and lack confidence practicing their reading skills aloud. The teacher introduces Reading Buddies as a fun, relaxed way for students to practice their reading (e.g., "When you're first learning about reading, it is very important to practice your reading skills each day. Today, I've brought in some Reading Buddies to help us practice!"). She models how to use the Reading Buddies and behaviors that good readers demonstrate when reading. The teacher then allows students to select a favorite Reading Buddies and practice on their own. As students read, the teacher circulates around the room and provides students with positive feedback as they enjoy reading their books.
Promoting Strong Reading Behaviors
During independent reading time, a teacher notices students are rolling around on the floor and talking to each other. They are not practicing the reading strategies that they have learned in class. To encourage students to practice reading more effectively, the teacher introduces Reading Buddies.The teacher models which reading behaviors to employ while reading to a buddy (e.g., “I am sitting still with my Reading Buddy nearby, just like I would read with a younger sibling or a pet.”). Students practice the correct and incorrect ways to read to the Reading Buddies. The teacher then monitors student behaviors to make sure they are using Reading Buddies correctly.
Boosting Confidence
A teacher notices that a student is reluctant to read during reading group. She is nervous and stumbles over words. After reading group, the teacher quietly tells the student that she will get to read with a Reading Buddy. The teacher explains that it will be fun and help her to feel more comfortable with her reading (e.g., “Reading Buddies love to hear you practice. They love to hear mistakes too, because it means you’re working hard.”). As the student begins to practice reading to the Reading Buddy, the teacher reinforces her efforts (e.g., “Great job! I see that you’re practicing your reading strategies with your buddy!”). The student seems more confident after reading a few pages.

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