Students bond over books in ‘Bear Buddy Readers’

At North Royalton Elementary School, an innovative program called Bear Buddy Readers fosters connections between students while promoting literacy.

Originating from NRES’s Literacy Leadership Committee, Bear Buddy Readers pairs classrooms across different grade levels to read together monthly.

Teachers sign up their K-4 classrooms at the start of the year, selecting times that work best, before getting matched with a buddy classroom. When the groups meet, students pair off to enjoy books of their choosing, sometimes adding supplementary activities. So far this year, holiday-themed crafts have complemented the reading sessions.

Fourth-grader Ella Mansbery said that when she was in kindergarten, her class read with the fourth graders.

“I thought it was so fun to hang out with the fourth graders,” she said. “Now, I am looking at it from a different perspective. I like reading with the kindergarteners, and I think they really like to be with the fourth-graders.”

The program has garnered great enthusiasm among both teachers and students. NRES plans to continue spotlighting these special reading connections and developing new buddy pairings for the remainder of the school year.

As literacy coach Katie Bober summarized, “I feel very lucky to work with such dedicated and creative teachers who believe in providing a literacy rich environment that promotes an excitement for reading.” ∞

Photo: The new Bear Buddy Readers program teams up younger students with older ones to foster a love a reading. Photo submitted.