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The Mandalay library was buzzing with the sound of fifth-grade students reading their book of choice out loud to the kindergarten students as part of the school’s Reading Buddies Program. This new program, developed by library media specialist Leova Manbhat, is an initiative to make reading more exciting and enjoyable.

“This is a great school building activity,” Ms. Manbhat explained. “We are creating relationships between the oldest and youngest students, while building confidence in the older students.”

Once a month, students from both grades come together in the library and are paired with a reading buddy. The fifth-graders choose their own book to read based on a common theme. On Jan. 9, the students not only read books about friendship, but they also had the opportunity to make friendship bracelets for one another.

Fifth-grade teacher Denise Allan explained that the Reading Buddies program helps to instill in the fifth-graders confidence in reading and develops fluency in expression. The students also serve as positive role models to the younger students. Kindergarten teacher Cheryl Schwartz noted that Reading Buddies introduces the younger students to an array of genres in a non-judgmental setting, helping the younger students develop confidence and a love of reading. The kindergarten students also have the undivided attention and affection of an older student.