"Ms. Ehll, do we get to come to the library to read with our buddies?" That is the question I've been getting the most for the past week. I LOVE it. It makes my heart tingle every time. At my school, I decided to initiate a reading buddies program for 1st graders and 4th graders. They meet for 30 minutes every other Friday in the afternoon. What teacher could say no to letting their students come down to the library for that amount of time?
I thought the program would be a good idea at my school because we're Title 1 and I wanted to encourage readers who struggle in one way or another to work on their area of weakness without realizing they are working on their area of weakness. There have been studies to show that this type of program increases confidence, fluency, comprehension, and a sense of responsibility among students.
All the students in the program were hand-selected by their teachers. The older students received a mini-training session, where the responsibilities they were to take on were shared. They also had the chance to select certain picture books and learning to read books to practice reading before they would meet their buddy the following week.
The first official meeting of reading buddies was one of those "this is how it should be" moments. Every student was engaged with their buddy. Introductions were easy, since the older buddy interviewed their younger buddy. They all found their cozy little spot in the library to read. The older buddy would read a book to the younger and then help the younger buddy read a book.
With such a wonderful atmosphere no wonder the students from this program keep asking me when they get to come back.