Reading Buddies – Ideas and a Freebie


Reading Buddies can improve reading fluency, decrease anxiety in reluctant or stressed readers, and add a bit of cuddly fun to reading, making it even more pleasurable than it usually is!

A Reading Buddy can be another student, or, as I’m going to talk about here, a stuffed animal or toy.

Why Reading Buddies?

Reading aloud can be stressful, even for adults. We often feel judged and found lacking. Yet reading aloud has powerful impact on developing reading fluency, including increasing speed, accurately and with inflection.

When we read to ourselves, we can leave out the inflection part, becoming sing-songy.

Even strong, avid, gifted readers can benefit from having a reason to read and someone to “listen.” Children are often better than adults at that willing suspension of disbelief that allows them to believe that in some way, they are being heard.

Reading Buddies have the power to lure young readers out of that and into a more effective, deliberate reading practice that is more useful while simultaneously being less stressful because you’re holding a plush toy (essentially a comfort object). It’s a win-win!


Alycia Zimmerman shares some great ideas about this on Scholastic’s website, too.

Pennington Publishing also has an article on stuffed animals and reading levels.

How do you store them?

You can do two things: you can have young readers borrow the Reading Buddies, returning them when the reading time is over, or you can give the Reading Buddies to the readers “for keeps.”

If you are interested in giving them to the young readers, I have a free printable with cute tags to add to them. You can download the printable from my Teachers pay Teachers store (for free) or from my website’s Free Downloads page.

Reading Buddy tag - Gifted Guru free printable

If you want to loan them out, Caitlin of Kindergarten Smiles shares her idea for a tub o’ buddies here – a place in her classroom where Reading Buddies can be found.

Reading Buddies tub for the classroom

I couldn’t find the source of this photo (other than Pinterest), so I can’t credit the genius teacher who named the Buddies, giving them a home in a hanging shoe organizer! So cute!

Reading Buddies - storing them, Gifted Guru


Both of these ideas could be done in the home or the classroom.

How do you give them out?

Letting readers choose their Reading Buddy increases the likelihood that they will actually engage, so I believe choice is best. On the other hand, if you select a Reading Buddy for a student and present it as a gift, that feels special as well. Just decide which way works best for your students.

In a classroom, you may wish to have students draw numbers and pick their Buddies if you are letting them choose.

Where do you get them?

If you are looking for places to find inexpensive Reading Buddies, your local dollar store most likely has possibilities for you. Remember that if you order online from Dollar Tree, you can have a whole case shipped to your closest store at no extra charge.

Reading Buddies don’t need to be stuffed animals – you can use rubber snakes if you want!

It can be fun to have an assortment from which kids can choose, so don’t be afraid to collect anything from a caterpillars to monsters!

Have fun reading with Reading Buddies!

I’d love to hear how you’re using them!





If you are interested in other ideas for encouraging reading, you may like:



Share it:

You might also like...