June 27, 2017

Book Buddies

When I was in fourth grade, my class was "Book Buddies" with my brother's Kindergarten class. Reading with our Book Buddies was one my favorite activities!  I still remember how exciting it was to go down to the Kindergarten room, picture books in hand, and get to be the "big kid" reading to the "little kids."  My brother and one of his friends would sit on either side of me as I read to them.  I remember practicing how to remind them to sit quietly, listen, look at the pictures, point to sight words on the page... I guess I was a teacher even back then. 😂

Book Buddies is still one my favorite activities and now my fourth graders are the "big kids." Every other week, or so, we traipse down three flights of stairs to our little Book Buddies' classroom.  My wonderful colleague typically has her little guys spread out around the room so that it's easy for the buddies to find each other. Then the magic begins!

It's so fun to watch the kiddos bond over books; see the little kids look up to the bigger ones, and watch the big ones practice all their best reading and teaching skills. As the year progresses, we add other activities to our Book Buddy time, like reading outside, making crafts, Book Buddy Morning Meetings, picnics, and even field trips to the park.

Not every Book Buddy match is an ideal one, but it's been surprising how many of our Buddy pairs turn out to be perfect for each other -- patient, understanding, similarly quirky, and adorable. Taking advantage of these strong bonds, I frequently remind my fourth graders that the younger students are looking up to them and their choices.  When one of my kiddos is having a tough time, visiting their Book Buddy can be the best motivator. And for the younger set, they always have great cheerleaders in their Big Buddies -- whether they are sharing their newest drawing or showing off a new skill on the playground.

I'm so glad that my school encourages this type of cross-grade-level interaction. Through Book Buddies, I've seen some of my most reluctant readers gain confidence as they read to a younger student; and I know that even my most impulsive kiddos can show great empathy and tolerance when working with a struggling Pre-Ker. Year and year, I know that Book Buddies is one our kiddos' favorite activities. We may even have some future teachers in this group...

How cute are they?!