West Columbia, S.C. – Students in Nikki Dixon’s second grade classes at East Point Academy recently had the opportunity to adopt a stuffed animal as a part of their new Reading Buddies program.
East Point parent and technology integration specialist Channing Anderson donated the materials needed to get the program started.
“As the parent of a child who lacks motivation when it comes to reading, I will jump on any fun idea. I learned about Reading Buddies in an education group, and instantly wanted to make it happen at East Point,” said Anderson.
Anderson told her coworkers, including Dixon, who just so happens to be her daughter Hadley’s teacher, about the program. Dixon immediately knew she wanted to bring the program to her classroom, so Anderson offered to purchase the stuffed animals.
Students were presented a basket of plush animals including bears, puppies, bunnies, elephants and more. Each student chose a new buddy and filled out and adoption certificate, complete with name.
“I was so incredibly thrilled to see the joy and excitement on my students’ faces as they chose their reading buddy, gave them a name and then promised to read to them every night,” said Dixon.
“I named my buddy Puppy Wuppy, because he’s so cute,” said second grader Cassidy Wise.
So far, the program has been a huge success.
“When we got home on adoption day, Hadley ran straight to her reading nook with Blue Bun. I am so thankful the teachers of East Point are open to trying new things,” added Anderson.
A 2017 study from the Osaka Institute of Technology and Kyushu University in Japan found that programs where students read to stuffed animals help develop children's prosocial behavior and literacy by encouraging them to read.
East Point librarian Jessica Easterbrooks agrees. “Research shows that reading just 20 minutes each day exposes readers to over a million words a year. Activities like the Reading Buddies adoption help to take the anxiety out of reading. With a Reading Buddy, reading is more fun and engaging for students,” said Easterbrooks.
It looks like the Reading Buddies program at East Point Academy is going to be around for a long time.
“I’m reading Dogman Lord of the Fleas to my buddy TJ and it’s so funny,” said second grader Roman Thomas, “I’m going to keep reading to him every night. It’s the best thing ever.”