{Click to access and download: Book Buddies: Book Groups & Reading Partnerships in the Classroom}

In my classroom, we have Book Buddies. These partnerships come in two forms: Student Book Clubs and Reading Partners. A book club consists of a group of students (typically 4-6 is manageable) while reading partners are just two classmates. Both groupings operate in the same manner.

The students read the same book independently at the same time. They predetermine a page number to stop at and complete a book discussion planning sheet to bring to the meeting. As they read, they record questions to ask during the discussion. The questions are all open ended to inspire deep and meaningful conversation. This helps to improve comprehension and critical thinking skills.

At times students may request to form their own partnerships which is encouraged. However, it is important that the teacher be the one who mainly decides upon the groupings for the shared readings. This is to encourage students to work with others and to match children with peers who share their interests and/or ability level.

Get to know your students as readers before beginning Book Buddies. Have them complete a Reader Survey, hold 1:1 conferences, analyze their data (curriculum-based benchmark testing, running records, informal observations, records from the previous year, conversations with their former teacher, etc). 
Use the information gathered to create lists of appropriate partnerships. While interests and abilities should be your priority, it is sometimes beneficial to pair students based on strengths and weaknesses with the goal being for one to learn from the other.

Prepare a packet for each student and guide them in selecting an appropriate text. I always have them check in with me to make sure they have opted to read a book that is a good fit for all of the students that will be part of the partnership or group. Sometimes I assign the title. 

The students hold an initial meeting to preview the book and determine at which points they will come back together to discuss what they have read. After completing the book, they reconvene to discuss the ending, write a short reflection on the text and the experience and make a short presentation to the class. This creates interest amongst the students and gets then eager to read new books.
In preparing for the new school year I recreated all of the printables I had used in the past and added in a whole bunch of new ones to help me stay organized when forming partners and groups. The implementation of the Common Core means we will be focusing so much more on book discussions and authentic literature vs. basal work. Yippee! I can't wait to use these and am really looking forward to seeing my friends excited about reading and communicating their thinking with peers on a regular basis. I also created a self-reflection and a teacher feedback page. They are all available in my Book Buddies: Reading Partners and Book Clubs in the Classroom Packet. The packet is Common Core aligned and addresses the standards listed at the end of this post. Below are some tips for implementing Book Buddies in your classroom.

Tips and Logistics:

First model the process with the entire class using a shorter text. You can print sample books from Reading A to Z to easily create a class set of texts to use for the initial modeling. 

Be sure to establish routines and procedures along with clear expectations for peer work. Include the students in drafting these expectations. Think about...
  • Location: Where will they meet? Which areas of the classroom are most conducive to discussions? If the weather is nice, it is fun to hold these meetings outdoors.
  • Volume: How loud should they be speaking so that they are heard, but not disruptive.
  • Materials: Where will they be stored? How should they be handled?

Do not start the entire class on Book Buddies at the same time. Instead begin with a small group of students who you feel are ready and responsible. This will allow you to sit in on their meetings and further guide them. Afterwards the students from this first group may be partnered with students who have not yet participated in Book Buddies and can serve as role models in the process.
Keep track of partnerships so you can match students with new partners. This is helpful in strengthening skills and developing new friendships.

Consider including students from other classrooms. Because the students are only coming together four times and the majority of the work is done independently, it is easy to match students with peers from another class. You may even want to pair a current student with a former student if you feel they would benefit from the experience.

Don’t always let a child’s reading level determine their grouping. Book Buddies is the perfect opportunity to include a child who may struggle with decoding with a higher level peer. You can read the text with the child, have him listen to an audio version or seek parent support and have him read it and draft his questions at home. 

Enlist help: Book Buddies is a great opportunity for parent volunteers. Utilize them for creating the packets, gathering the texts from the library, or (best of all) helping to facilitate the discussions by sitting in on the groups.

If you do not have multiple copies of a text...

Search used book stores and yard sales for books that match titles already in your classroom library

My Book Buddies: Book Clubs, Reading Partners and Literature Circles in the Classroom Packet includes over 40 printable pages.


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