Every year I go to a local book fair at Holland Hall School. I load up on the best stuffed animals and books for a very reasonable price. I use them to make book buddies. This year while piling up my stuffed animals – I had a great idea. Why not buy tote bags and let each child have a book buddy in their cubby for reading time? (Previously, I had sent the book buddies home on a rotating basis.) I went to Oriental Trading and found the best deal on personalized totes!
Twenty-four personalized totes cost just $45.00 from Oriental Trading.
Every child has a book buddy bag hanging in their cubby.
Inside each bag is a special book “buddy” — a stuffed animal.
The children may bring out their book buddy to read with. There is no “play” with the book buddy. They are strictly a reading buddy.
The joy of one student as she greets her book buddy for the first time!
Oh, how this makes my teacher heart go pitter patter! Reading everywhere!
Here's a few tips for making your own:
- Find stuffed animals at thrift stores, resale shops and local book fairs. They wash up quite well!
- Better yet, ask parents to donate stuffed animals. (You could team up with a colleague and trade stuffed animals so your students do not get their own!)
- Use this bag as a Home Reading Program. Include a reading log with the books and minutes per day recorded.
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Sparkles, Smiles, and Student Teaching
What an absolutely fantastic idea!! I think a online visit to Oriental Trading is in order! This idea could work for 4th graders and independent reading. So long ziploc bags and expensive magazine holders! Thanks!
Confessions of a Fourth Grade Teacher
Oh… so cute.
I am following your blog regularly and got great information. I really like the tips you have given. Thanks a lot for sharing. Will be referring a lot of friends about this. Keep blogging custom gift packaging
I do a reading bag. In it I include books, a literacy game and a math game. The feedback I had from parents was always positive and that they didn’t realize they needed to work on those skills with their child. So the games helped my parents with ideas to work on at home too. There is also a journal for the families to share their thoughts about the books they have read. They can then go back and see what books they have enjoyed and which they didn’t like the most. I like the idea of a reading buddy. I may have to do this too. Thanks!
I love the inclusion of the literacy game and math game. My kindergarten team developed something like this a few years back and you are so right. It really helped the parents to see the missing skills.
I love this idea!!! This weekend I am off to hunt for reading buddies. How many books do you usually put in the bag? How many days do the children keep them at home for? Do the kids pick the books?
Did you happen to read the article from theatlantic.com titled “Can Reading Logs Ruin Reading for Kids?” Let me know your thoughts on it.
Many thanks for sharing another great idea 😉
I have altered how I did this year to year – changing things up based on the children in my classroom and what engaged them. I did let the children pick their books at the time of this photo. Five was standard. I have also selected the books to be on level for their reading level. Honestly, both ways the children loved it! Regarding the Reading Logs – such food for thought. I think there is real and valid concern. One year I had a Book Rating sheet where the children just rated the book 0-5 stars. This was a hit.
Love this idea!
It’s so sweet to see the joy on the children’s faces when they see their new buddies. It does make reading time a meaningful time if you have “someone” to read to!
Dally we have a children’s centre in Yorkkshire In the UK
We do “Book Share” every week the children use a book and place it in their Book Share bag
& we also have in there a small personalised note pad
The staff write any comments about “Why their child chose the book ” and Parents then write comments Ie
About how the child made language comments to describe the contents of the Book. We have done this for several years & it is a huge success
But I love the Personalised Bags that would be Fantastic
Thank you so much for your ideas we use many of them & adapt them to suit the ages & stages of our younger children
Thank you so much Donna X
I love the family connection with the book bags! Thanks for sharing this terrific idea!
I have been sending home “Book Buddies” for several years. Each bag has an animal, and related books–if possible, one fiction, one non-fiction, and one easy to read. The children select one each week to take home, and return it the next week for another choice. I find my books and animals like you, at garage sales and thrift stores. Then, I don’t feel bad if one “gets lost.” This year, I added math bags, which have one math-related book, and a math game. Parents say they love this, because their child is having fun and not knowing they are learning math. Both the book buddies and the math bags have been well-well-received.
Wonderful ideas, Judy! It’s always fun to have someone to read with. There are so many places to find little friends to read with the children!
I go every couple weeks to the library and bring free books in room. I also have parents sign up monthly to come to read to class.
The math bags idea is brilliant! Thank you for sharing!
Interesting. Will try to make in our specific program
I love the reading bag. Wr send a book, a stuffed doll, and a journal on Friday. The child comes back on monday and talks aboit the book and writes and draws a picture of their wrekedd together.
Hi Sally, thank you for sharing the information. It’s really a very creative way of having such environment for children. I am sure the children love to read books and the amount of curiosity is created will attract them
I loved this idea Sally! It’s simple and yet so effective. Thank you sharing.
Would this work for preschoolers also? I care for babies upward.
I know that their is no age limit on when to read, but I do like the idea of the bag, book and toy
To be honest – having never worked with infant and toddlers I am not sure. My experience is primarily 3 year olds to 7 year olds.
What a brilliant idea
My parents going to love it thank you for help me and improve children learning always.
I like your ideas. Thanks for sharing
What ideas do you have for supporting reading in the home during he current climate? At the moment we are not sending bags home due to COVID-19.
The “Home Reading Totes” are a great idea! We encourage families to read at home by providing what books have inspired our curriculum in our weekly email. This post has inspired me in so many ways to enhance how we encourage families to read at home 🙂
Its really awesome ideas as how to make children interested in reading and even families gets involved also. Thanks for sharing.
I made literacy bags that had a game, activity or science experiment to go along with it. Parents loved them and the kids were excited to take the next bag home when they returned their current bag. I also let my students self select a book to take home daily to read to/with their parents. When they completed 20 books (about once a month) they got to pick out a new book mark or pointer to use when they read. This was a big hit also!
Great idea to encourage children’s literacy especially their verbal communication skills. Yes, we do have a library in our centre with a wide range of books. Families and children can access it at any time. In my kinder, all children have their own library bag and every day they take a book from our library and take it home and read it with their family. Reading award is another add-on program that we use to encourage children’s reading habits at home.