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Buddy Reading with Your Child

Mother buddy reading with her child

Have you tried buddy reading?

Buddy reading is a great way to help your child gain fluency. In buddy reading, you and your child take turns reading by sentence, paragraph, or page. Also called paired reading or partner reading, buddy reading has multiple benefits, but perhaps the biggest benefit is that it prevents discouragement.

Learning to read is hard work, and for some kids disheartening!

Imagine you’re a child with significant reading challenges. You’re faced with pages of text—and you know that you’ll have to sound out many of the words. You want to be able to read the story, but it is so hard. With buddy reading, you read alongside your child. She reads for a while, and then you read for a while. She no longer feels that she has to do it all on her own. With this method, she feels your support, and she learns from your fluent reading.

Because buddy reading has so many benefits, our customer support team often recommends this technique when coaching customers with young or struggling learners. I invited Robin from our team to share some real-life examples with us.

Here’s Robin:

My youngest child, Belle, struggled to gain fluency in her reading. She had to sound out every word of a story, and it would take her a long time to read even one page. She would get tired, then frustrated, and then discouraged. Often, she would be in tears by the time she finished a story. I tried having her read the story over a couple days, but then she would be in tears that she couldn’t finish it in one day.

So, I began buddy reading with Belle. We would read a short story over a period of three days.

Buddy Reading: Day 1

Belle reads the odd-numbered pages, and I read the even-numbered pages. Together we read through the story, alternating pages, until we reach the end of the story.

Here’s a short video clip showing Day 1 in progress.

Buddy Reading: Day 2

On Day 2, we re-read the story, but I read the odd-numbered pages, and Belle reads the even-numbered pages. In this manner, we read the whole story through again, each reading the pages the other read the day before.

Buddy Reading: Day 3

On Day 3, my daughter is finally able to read the story by herself in one sitting—without tears. After two days of reading and hearing it read, Belle is familiar with the story and words. She still has to sound out many words, but not as many as on the first day. She is able to succeed.

Mother and daughter reading together

Over time, Belle has needed less buddy reading. Now it’s enough to help her with just a paragraph, or a just a few sentences, instead of an entire page. As the AAR stories have gotten longer, Belle has started to get tired toward the end of the story. She doesn’t want me to read a full page anymore, so instead I supply words when she struggles to sound them out. I don’t do this throughout the whole story, and we never move on to the next lesson until she can read the whole story by herself. I just step in as needed to help her to complete the story the first time through without tears.

Other Uses for Buddy Reading

Buddy reading is also helpful when a child wants to read a book that includes words with concepts and phonograms that haven’t been taught yet. For example, my boys love the DK Beginner Reader books on topics like Lego®, Star Wars, snakes, and other exciting things. These books always contained words that my sons weren’t equipped to read yet. I found this especially common with names. Supplying a young reader with words like taipan (a kind of poisonous snake) or Tatooine (a planet in Star Wars) can be all that is needed to help them read these books.

Young reader looking at non-fiction book

As children progress to higher levels of reading, buddy reading can come back into play again. If a child reads so slowly that it takes him a month to finish a chapter book, he may be discouraged from starting the next one. But if I can read it along with him, he can get through a whole chapter book in just two weeks, then he may be all the more excited to start the next one. So I read a page or two, and then my son reads a page or two, and we work our way through the chapters.

Buddy reading shares the load and encourages more reading, and, more importantly, better feelings about reading.

Has buddy reading been a help for your struggling reader? Please share in the comments below.

Are you looking for a multisensory approach to teaching reading? Be sure to download my free e-book, The Power of the Orton-Gillingham Approach. You’ll learn all about this powerful multisensory approach to teaching, along with how it forms the backbone of the All About Reading and All About Spelling programs.

The Power of the Orton-Gillingham Approach

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Lauren

says:

This is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. My son is overwhelmed by the “whole page” of reading moments … so alternating pages helps give him a break, and he knows that his break is coming soon.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so glad this will be helpful for you, Lauren! Buddy reading made such a huge difference for my daughter. I hope it helps your son as well.

Kathy

says:

I wanted to leave a follow up on Buddy Reading. IT ABSOLUTELY WORKED! I am realizing now that the length of the book (and fluency pages) were probably just overwhelming. Once I tried this buddy reading with him, his reluctance to read suddenly changed. The first day I read even pages and he read odd pages. For the second reading, we were going to switch but he just read the entire story himself! Also, when he needs a confidence boost, I pull from the words he knows at first glance and we read through those in flash card fashion. It ends with a big smile on his face and it makes things so much easier :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so pleased to hear that buddy reading made such a quick and impressive difference for your son, Kathy! Wonderful! Thank you for leaving this follow up.

Sarah B.

says:

Buddy reading has been a great tool for longer stories or a difficult concept! We’ve done buddy reading between a parent/child or sibling/sibling.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Sarah.

Molly Wildenberg

says:

We love this method! It really gives my reader confidence to finish!

Erin

says:

I’ve done this with my son too! Sometimes I’ll read a page after he’s read it so he can decode it easier. I’ve noticed that his stamina has improved over time and he’s able to read a larger portion of the story than he was before.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Erin! That improvement with reading stamina is so important, but sometimes we don’t notice improvement so much because the stories get longer as we go on.

Jana Miller

says:

This is a great idea! Especially the switching pages the 2nd time so the child reads the entire story!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Jana!

Chase

says:

Great article – buddy reading is something I encourage with my students.

Jennifer You

says:

my son loves reading – but doesn’t love reading out loud. We’ve done this and it really works!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Interesting, Jennifer! I’m glad buddy reading is helping though.

Erin

says:

This has been really helpful to do with my son!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m pleased to hear that buddy reading has been helpful for your son, Erin!

Judith Martinez

says:

I’ve heard of buddy reading but I’ve never tried it. My youngest two kids are struggling to get the hang of reading so I should try this.

Jenn O

says:

This really helped my reluctant reader who was about 8 at the time! Advice to all the moms and dads out there with reluctant readers…just keep putting in the time and work- it WILL pay off ?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for encouraging others, Jenn!

Corey Olomon

says:

This is such a good idea for such an important goal.

Deena

says:

This is a great idea. Most times I just correct words they miss but I think I will try this with a couple of my struggling readers.

Jen W.

says:

Excited to learn more about this program!

heather

says:

This is such a great program to promote reading in children.

Dynal Roberson

says:

Buddy reading really helps my daughter who struggles and therefore does not enjoy reading.

Dawn

says:

Thank you for this idea! I have started this with my child and it really helps him to not be so overwhelmed! We look forward to reading each day now!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

That’s great to hear, Dawn!

Myra

says:

We love doing this!

Carrie

says:

I wish you made a math curriculum too as my daughter is rocking learning to read with AAR L1!

Heather I

says:

My son hates reading..even buddy reading..we are working on it.

Katy

says:

Great ideas, thank you!!

Sam C

says:

We love All About Spelling! Thank you

Julie

says:

This is great information. I’m new to homeschooling and this program has so many resources that I can’t go wrong.

Amanda Whitley

says:

I love this idea especially in a book with several characters and we could read lines from different characters.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

That’s a great way to read plays as well, Amanda!

Madeleine Boutan

says:

This helps my kids get through the stories! Works for both the 7 and 10 year old.

Madeleine Boutan

says:

Yes! Buddy reading has made finishing stories possible for my reader. He’s 10 and on level 4.

Rachel Bradley

says:

I was first introduced to buddy reading when I worked for my daughter’s school. When I realized she was falling behind in her reading I tried these basic steps and they made quite a difference. All About Reading has made buddy reading more fun.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so pleased to hear that All About Reading has helped to make reading more fun for your daughter, Rachel!

Kathy

says:

This is a great idea! Thank you AAR for always having this mama’s back. My son has been slopping through this semester and it seems to be dragging – mostly because we started (unbeknownst to me) with the longest lesson to date on the first day of school. Now we have hit a much longer story and after the slow progress he was making, I stopped him. We have just been concentrating on word recognition and going through the cards until he was ready to tackle again. THIS. THIS will go so far and get us up and going again for 2nd semester. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I am so glad to hear this will be so helpful for you and your son, Kathy! I would love to hear how it goes over the first few weeks of the semester. And, if you have other difficulties or struggles, please reach out to us! We are available here, on Facebook, by email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com, and by phone at 715-477-1976. We are here to help you help your son to be successful and confident in reading!

Marlena

says:

I have done this with my son and it definitely removes some of the resistance to reading, but we haven’t read through the book again as suggested here. We are only just starting homeschooling but I’m so glad I read this now. We will implement these suggestions and I’m sure it will help my son too. He really needs a confidence boost with his reading. Thanks so much!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Marlena! Another way to boost a reader’s confidence is to occasionally have a day when they reread a story for a couple of months ago. The story will be so much easier than it was previously, and this helps the child to be aware of the progress they are making. Sometimes when each new story is hard, they get the idea they haven’t gotten better at all. But they have, it’s just that the material has gotten harder as they get better, to keep pace with their learning. But going back can help put progress in perspective!

Sharon Field

says:

I love the book series We Both Read by Treasure Bay. It encourages buddy reading with parents reading one page with more detailed information while the next page children read the next part of the story that is age appropriate. Particularly with nonfiction books it keeps students engaged and has built the confidence of many of my students who feel like non-readers. As a librarian I tried to keep a variety of reading levels on hand as well as fiction/non-fiction titles. Our families loved them for struggling readers.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We love the series We Both Read too, Sharon! We keep a list of titles that can be used for additional reading with each level of All About Reading and We Both Read is on our list.