Post #2 in the Last 20 Days of Literacy Series… written in a bit of a rush after school! All posts in this series can be found here.
One of the biggest joys as I have as a teacher is watching kids fall in love with books. One of the most effective ways to support kids in finding this love is by modeling it.
All school year long, not only have I modeled this love for my fifth graders, but my fifth graders in turn have modeled it for our kindergarten buddy class. My colleague, kindergarten teacher, Stephanie Han and I have developed a system where 1/3 of my class goes to her class three times each week for buddy reading. Sometimes we go as a whole group, but most of the time we go in thirds. Today was a whole group day. Sometimes, the fifth graders bring a picture book to read to their buddies, while other times the kinder buddies read through their book stacks on their reading mats to the fifth graders. Stephanie and I plan to continue buddy reading up until the very last week of school.
The benefits of multi-age buddy reading are truly endless. In addition to the fifth graders modeling a love of reading for the kindergarteners, the kindergarteners are supporting the fifth graders in using the important (and often an afterthought in school) life skills of patience, kindness, empathy, and mentorship.
Buddy reading is a wonderful year-long endeavor that I will long hold tight to even with other interruptions and requirements abound. In elementary school, there is nothing more important than falling in love with books. One of the best ways to do this is by reading and talking with a mentor on a consistent, predictable basis.