“Here’s the best-kept secret about reading buddy programs: The teens who saunter into a room wary of reading to some restless youngster, typically end up gaining as much as their “little reading buddy.” They gain self-confidence, reading skills, academic growth and a new desire to read. Why? Because they thrive on having someone look up to them, and they’re able to read easy books that boost their own confidence; sometimes backing up to an easy book is just what a struggling pre-teen or teen reader needs, but won’t do on his own.
With just 15 hours of reading buddy contact, one group of fourth and sixth graders in Oregon gained the equivalent of more than 2.5 years in reading abilities (rainbowreaders.com). Even students with as few as five hours of contact gained the equivalent of a year and a half.”
And according to a U.S. Department of Education study reported by Teacher Vision:
“Improvement in academic performance amongst those reading below grade level: Reading buddies, 25%; others, 12%
Improvement in classroom behavior amongst poor readers: Reading buddies, 16%; others, 3%
Poor readers who said they often or always enjoyed reading: Reading buddies, 55%; others, 31%
After one school year, “both teacher reports and student self-reports found significant gains in reading attitudes, self-esteem, library use and academic performance.” (source)
The Glen Ellyn Public Library supports national summer reading initiatives with a variety of programs including tracking minutes read for prizes, book discussions, and literature sharing activities. However, the best motivation for reading is the personal interest of another person. For this, the library offers a special program with a personal touch called Book Buddies.
Book Buddies matches a Middle School student with a reader age 4 through grade 5. Each week at a mutually chosen time, the paired students choose the books they want to share and pick a comfortable location in the Youth Department. For 30 minutes they enjoy reading together.
For the younger student this is an opportunity to practice reading, an essential part of the skill retention necessary for school in the fall for all levels of students. In addition they build a relationship with an older student role model who can encourage their interest in a variety of subjects and library use.
For the Middle School reader it is a volunteer opportunity that can be added to a resume for later jobs. They benefit from sharing their interest and skills with an upcoming learner and their own interest range will be widens as they choose books they will both enjoy.
Forms to take part in Book Buddies are available now in Youth Department. The program begins with orientation on June 8.
-Robin, Early Literacy Librarian