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Buddy Reading Area

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

At the buddy reading center, children work in pairs, taking turns reading a book to each other.

Organization and Routines

Choosing Buddies—In the first row on my literacy center board (see pages 16-17), I place a card that lists the names of the children who will visit the center that day. (In kindergarten, I also include photos of students.) I list the names in a way that makes it clear who the pairs are. I find that assigning buddies, rather than letting children choose their own partners, alleviates potential problems. I usually change the buddy pairs once a month so that children have the opportunity to work with many different buddies throughout the course of the school year.

Buddy Reading Library—This center requires an area for storing and organizing appropriate books as well as children’s buddy reading folders. I organize the books in my buddy reading library in baskets on shelves. I often separate them by theme, genre, or author.

Buddy Reading Library Book Baskets—Be sure to clearly label the baskets of books in your buddy reading library. I use icons to represent the types of books in each basket. I also print the icons onto stickers and affix them to the books. This helps students return the books to the appropriate basket, keeping the library organized.

Buddy Reading Rules—In order for my students to have a good understanding of what is expected during buddy reading time, we brainstorm rules for this center, using interactive writing.

Tip—I always invite children to help create the rules for all our centers. When students are involved in creating the rules, they become much more invested in the routines — and the centers run more smoothly.

Logging in Buddy Reading Books—In order for students to be accountable at this center, I ask them to record the title and author of each book they are reading. Each student is given a buddy reading folder with the buddy reading icon on the cover, his or her name on the tab, and a reading record sheet stapled inside. (See Appendix E.) Each time a student completes a sheet, I staple a new one on top of it. By the end of the year, students have a clear record of the books they have read during buddy reading. When students are ready to respond to their books independently, I have them complete a reading response activity, and then file it in on the other side of the file folder.

Buddy Reading

Housing Buddy Reading Folders—It is important that your students’ buddy reading folders be easy to access. I clearly label this basket and store it within the buddy reading library.

Buddy Reading in Motion

Here’s how buddy reading works. Buddies visit the buddy reading library to select a book. Both children select a book so that they will share two stories. Since each child is given the opportunity to choose a book, there are no arguments about who will pick a book.

Once each child has selected a book, the pair looks for a quiet place to read together. I model for them how to pick a spot to read. They should look for a space that does not have a lot of other children around. It should be a quiet area with minimal distractions.

Once they have found a quiet place to read, students can work together to decide which book they plan to read first. I expect children to sit in a way that is conducive to sharing their books. For instance, the children in the photo are sitting side by side and holding the book between them.

Early in the year, children may not be independent readers yet. During buddy reading, I have children work together to tell the story through the pictures in the book if the words are too difficult. This gives them a sense of confidence and the opportunity to independently enjoy challenging picture books. This process also helps build the students’ sense of story — and develop their love of books.

Once the buddies have completed both books, I have them write the title and author of the books they have read in their buddy reading folder.


This is an excerpt from Literacy Centers in Photographs by Nikki Campo-Stallone.

  • Subjects:
    Cooperation and Teamwork, Classroom Management, Independent Reading, Reading Response, Literary Response, Early Reading, New Teacher Resources, Teacher Tips and Strategies
  • Skills:
    Writing
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