Reading Buddies: The Power of Purpose

Some time ago, when Patricia, my PYP colleague, asked me if I could help her find an MYP group for a reading buddies project I checked the schedule, and the only suitable option I found did not precisely encourage me to go ahead with the idea. The MYP class that we could pair up with Patricia’s group presented some behavior challenges in the library (the school had scheduled one library lesson a week to encourage students to read for pleasure), and there had been some incidents that simply did not give us great confidence in the success of the project. However, we decided to give it a go, to try before giving up.

The outcome quickly impressed us. Kids who had previously been late to library lessons were now waiting for their PYP reading buddies at the door. Suddenly, one simple explanation of a task at the beginning of a class sufficed, and everybody was up and about finding books, flipping pages, and collaborating with their younger peers. All of this was something we were very pleased to witness, but the surprises did not stop there. When the primary students were unable to come to the library, the teenagers were effortlessly grabbing books and seemed more likely to settle down and read. Not only had the behavior of the students changed when their reading buddies were around, their attitude towards reading was shifting.

Some time ago, I came across a Facebook post that had a picture of a man playing darts and a caption that said something like “you miss all the shots you don’t take.” When given the chance, these students became caring members of their community and were learning, perhaps without fully realizing it, because their actions had a purpose. As teachers, we sometimes miss opportunities to facilitate meaningful learning experiences because we are unwilling to “take the shot.”

Darts picture taken from