Elementary and High School Reading Buddies

by Vera Jirnov

Over three Thursdays in April and May, high school students read books with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders for a half hour per session. I was paired up with Calvin, a 3rd-grader whose book of choice was Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I learned a lot about Calvin, who likes to read and has an older brother.

Looking around the classroom I noticed that each pair had adapted their own way of reading. Whether the teams took turns reading or if one read to the other, things seemed to be going well. 

3rd grader Everlie said that she LOVES reading with her brother, freshman Keaton Nelson. Everlie and Keaton took turns reading Dog Man. They finished reading The 4th Dog Man and she asked Keaton if they could read the 5th one at home.

Alex, a 4th grader, said he read about “Colorado history” and “farming and landforms” with his reading partner. Alex likes reading with high schoolers and would like to do something science-related with the high school.

High schoolers hope to do more activities with elementary kids. Brooke thinks that doing “arts and crafts or something would also be fun because it involves the kids more.” Older kids can also seem intimidating to elementary kids, she said, so “it helps ease the worries” and shows them “that we’re not big scary kids, we’re just here for the same reason they are.” 

3rd grader Jameson agreed: “it would be pretty neat,” he said, to do more activities with high school students. Everlie said she likes “being near big kids,” and would like to do art with high schoolers: “It would be fun to make pop-up cards!” 

This experience has given the high schoolers a chance to get to know elementary students better. Freshman Brooke Edder read the Rainbow Magic Series to Micah and Lily. Brooke noticed that one girl related to the story more than the other. Brooke also discovered that Lily is a little shyer than Micah. “Micah definitely talks louder than Lily,” she said.

Brooke wishes that “we started it sooner in the year so that we could build good connections with the little kids.” Science teacher Ms. Lakin said that “it's just a matter of coordinating times with the elementary.” 

On the last Thursday, the third-grade students surprised their partners with handmade thank you cards. Keaton Nelson received a pop up card from Everlie. The card had a pop up K and a note. Keaton was surprised and thought that “it was really nice.”