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:
- Choose a book.
- Create a reading schedule.
- Set a time every day to read.
- Share what you learn with each other and encourage questions and dialogue.
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 all of those things 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 as well as 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.
To see more examples of comprehension questions, see this post on read alouds.
Benefits of buddy reading
- Reading for school will be easier because your tween can discuss an areas that cause confusion.
- You’ll both have someone to talk about books with, so discussing favorite characters or themes won’t become boring! 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 skills because kids have to 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 by two people explaining ideas back and forth.
- Builds stronger relationships between parents, teacher, 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 the best idea 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.
Come up with a list of questions to help guide the buddy read.
- 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 when they’re 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)?
For reference, my 11-year-old and I buddy read Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass recently.
Reading has always been an important activity for children, but it is especially so 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 by buddy reading. If this sounds like fun for both you and your tween, subscribe below!
I send out monthly emails about how writing helps kids succeed at school and tips on building a strong home library together.
It might just be the thing that gets your tween interested in books again!