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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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Laura

says:

I have done buddy reading with my 12 year old for years and it really helps him to finish books that are at his age level (and books his peers are reading) but take him a long time to read. He has dyslexia and has become such a good reader with an OG program but still reads at a slow pace (about 1/3 the rate of kids his age). Buddy reading has kept him reading and enjoying books!

Robin

says: Customer Service

Laura,
Thank you for sharing how you have used buddy reading with your older student to help him enjoy books! Such a wonderful way to approach reading together!

Angela

says:

This worked for my daughter.

Sarah

says:

My son struggles with fluid reading. I am definitely going to give this a try. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this will be helpful for your son, Sarah. I think you may also find our blog post on How to Develop Reading Fluency helpful as well.

If you have additional concerns or need more help, please let us know. We are happy to help!

April

says:

This was so helpful for my middle son when we first started out.

Edith

says:

This is a great idea. I would definitely be trying this out with my kids.

Sarah Bourget

says:

This is a great idea, I’m going to try with my son when he is reading.

Pauline

says:

This has been a helpful strategy to transition my struggling reader to longer stories.

Jennifer Mirro

says:

Great idea, my teenager loves helping with this!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love that your teen can help your younger child like this, Jennifer!

Kristen Hale

says:

I love doing this method it definitely encourages my kiddos to read more than they would on their own!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Kristen!

Ashley L

says:

Great idea! I started using AAR pre-reading with my son this year. He really enjoys and I look forward to starting the next level next year as well as AAS.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Ashley! I’m so pleased to hear your son is enjoying the Pre-reading level so much.

JS

says:

This is a great idea.

Anna

says:

I have always read aloud to my children, but use the buddy reading idea as they start reading – I find it really helps to encourage them to keep going and to keep the gist of the story. Mine have been “late readers” which means that often books of their reading level are discarded because the stories are too young, but the stories they like may be a bit ambitious for reading on their own. Reading together is a great help. I have never thought to reread a story though…this seems like a good idea to get them to read a story through completely on their own!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It sounds like you have used buddy reading very well to help your children have success with reading, Anna! Rereading is very beneficial too, especially for building smooth, fluent reading. Thank you for sharing!

Carol

says:

We are just beginning reading this week. Thank you so much for the buddy reading tip. Definitely going to use this!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Carol! I hope you have lots of fun learning to read.

Lisa

says:

I love this idea!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Lisa!

Danielle Brownrigg

says:

I love this idea!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Danielle!

Kate

says:

I didn’t know this had an official name! It works so well with my daughter!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great to hear this technique is helping your daughter, Kate!

Anika

says:

This has been great for my new reader!

Kathy

says:

This was so helpful for my girl.

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.