This year’s seventh grade and kindergarten Reading Buddies project kicked off in the Briarcliff Middle School Library when Library Media Specialist Kathleen McCabe led an in-depth discussion with the middle school students on creating picture books to share with the younger children.
“What topics will make the most sense for 5 and 6-year-olds?” asked seventh grade teacher Mary Beth Craven, the project’s coordinator for many years. Craven advised students to look at the books carefully, noting the number of words per page, the space occupied by illustrations, as well as the binding, gutters, and pagination.
Each student was tasked with fashioning a 15-page picture book that told a story page by page. The finished books tackled largely “how-to” topics such as: how to share, how to make a friend, how to enjoy kindergarten, how be kind, and how to say “I’m sorry” and “I don’t know.”
The project fit in with the District’s focus on project-based learning, a process where students start with a concept, put something on paper, conference with the teacher, then go through several rounds of peer reviews. The final step is “adding color and binding to get [the book] ready for prime time,” said Craven.
A seventh-grade trip to Todd to visit the kindergarteners and share the finished products marked the culmination of the project. Kindergarten teacher Leslie Newman noted that the direct connection to the Teachers College Writers Workshop curriculum launched this year was a plus for all.
“Story writing modeled by older students has always helped kindergarten students to develop their writing skills. This year, as an added bonus, it fit in perfectly with our new reading program,” said Newman.