Reading buddies

The lesson: Develop positive attitudes towards reading by writing and inspiring personalized books.

Two children enrolled in Southern Oregon University's preschool have their noses pressed to a glass door, watching for their fifth-grade reading buddies from Walker Elementary School to arrive on June 6.

Finally, the call goes out. "Our buddies are here!" Their classmates, who are impatiently waiting in the next room, scream with delight. Their yearlong reading buddies have arrived for their last visit.

The excited fifth-graders enter with gifts under their arms, which the preschoolers quickly unwrap to discover personalized books written about them based on information learned while reading and playing together. The fifth-graders then peek into bags given to them by the preschoolers and giggle to see their little buddy's photo framed in painted popsicle sticks.

Now it is time for the preschoolers to snuggle up to their big buddies and listen to a story. Eyes light up as preschoolers realize that their names, as well as their favorite places, pets, colors and activities, are part of these one-of-a-kind books.

Fifth-grade teacher Heidi Heidig and preschool teachers Maureen Honeycutt and Rina Pryor stand back, observing and smiling, knowing this is an important moment in their students' lives. A year of visits, reading and playing together is now complete.

— Heidi Monjure

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