how to use buddy reading to get your tween to pick up a book for fun

buddy reading

Buddy reading is a great way to encourage your tween’s love of reading.

Learning how to read can be challenging for some children, and having someone to guide them through the process can make all the difference. Keeping them reading during the middle school years can be even harder!

You can encourage your tween’s love of reading by making it a shared experience. Buddying up with your child to read together is an excellent way for them to see that you value books and learning, and they’ll likely start to do the same themselves.

What is buddy reading?

Buddy reading is when two people read the same book.

One buddy reader will typically be an older or more experienced reader who helps a newer, younger reader through the text by asking questions and providing answers.

Buddy readers can be two mature readers who pair off and read the same book as well.

How does buddy reading work?

Shared reading looks like this:

  1. Choose a book.
  2. Create a reading schedule.
  3. Set a time every day to read.
  4. Share what you learn with each other and encourage questions and dialogue.
how does shared reading work?

A buddy can ask questions that help clarify what the other person has read.

For example: “What happened next?” or “How did this character change?”

During a buddy reading session, asking questions can help your tween think more deeply about what they have just read. Stop once in a while throughout your shared reading sessions so you can summarize what has happened or discuss something important that was not obvious from glancing at the text.

Let your middle schooler pick out some words, phrases, sentences, or images on their own before starting a discussion (i.e., looking up new vocabulary). This allows them to connect with the material better than if you had provided everything beforehand.

Another way to do buddy reading would be for each buddy to take turns being the leader of each chapter, so they both get to practice leading their own readings and following someone else’s lead.

You can read aloud together or read separately and come together to discuss what you’ve read at a later date.

get your tween excited about reading

Benefits of buddy reading

  • Reading for school will be easier because your tween can discuss any areas that cause confusion.
  • You’ll both have someone to talk about books with, so discussing favorite characters or themes won’t become dull! You could even set up “reading dates” where you both spend 30 minutes talking about books together.
  • Reading partners will know your likes and dislikes, so they can help you pick out other books you might enjoy.
  • Improves fluency and comprehension because kids must think about what they read.
  • Great for students who don’t like to read by themselves!
  • Builds vocabulary since it’s easier to make connections between words that are being used in context rather than seeing them in isolation on flashcards or worksheets.
  • Provides a more engaging learning experience with two people explaining ideas back and forth.
  • Builds stronger relationships between parents, teachers, and kids as they work together.

Good strategies for implementing a buddy reading program at home

Make sure both buddy readers have time to read!

If one person is always busy with schoolwork or sports practice, it might not be best to do buddy reading together at this point. Try picking times when both people aren’t doing anything instead of fitting it into an already packed schedule.

Pick books similar in length & genre if possible. Usually, personal preference comes first here, though! So if one reader prefers short stories while their buddy enjoys epic novels, try finding some middle ground like graphic novels or novellas.

Create and stick to a reading schedule. For instance, read a book a month. Meet once a week to discuss what you’ve read.

reading skills for middle schoolers

Come up with a list of questions to help guide the buddy read.

Some examples:

  • How has the main character changed?
  • Can you relate to the main character?
  • What do you think is the theme of this book?
  • Why do you think the author chose this setting for the story?
  • What are some good adjectives to describe the main character?

These are just a few ideas. Come up with your own questions or have your child come up with them!

Then, buddy read together using your prompts. This way, it’s not only fun, but kids can learn how to ask more in-depth questions while reading at home.

How do you select good buddy reads for your middle schooler?

Take an inventory of their interests! Do they enjoy reading books by Rick Riordan, Stuart Gibbs, or Stephanie Meyer? Do they prefer non-fiction reads about science and technology?

Do your research! There are many booklists available on the Internet that you can find depending on their interests, such as:

What genres do they like best? What age groups do those genres relate to (middle-grade readers vs. YA)?

Remember: There is no “perfect” buddy book!

For reference, my 11-year-old and I buddy read Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass recently.

For inspiration, see 20 Books Like the Mysterious Benedict Society and Fall in Love With These 15 Middle Grade Books by AAPI Authors.


Reading has always been an essential activity for children, especially during the tween years. Research shows that reading with your tween can help them learn to read better themselves and increase their vocabulary, which will serve them well in all aspects of life.

One way you can encourage your child’s love of literature is buddy reading. If this sounds fun for you and your tween, subscribe below!

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Who knows?

It might just be the thing that gets your tween interested in books again!

what is buddy reading?

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