One for the Books: HPU Book Buddies Enjoy Holiday Celebration with Local Children

HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 21, 2017 – Second grader Kimberly Young grabbed a present from underneath the tree that stood in the lobby of the High Point University Stout School of Education.

She carried it over to her Book Buddy, HPU junior Brianna Beard, and tore away at the wrapping paper to reveal her favorite book, “Stephanie’s Ponytail,” by Robert Munsch. 

Kimberly Young, age 7, poses with the book “Stephanie’s Ponytail,” a gift from her HPU Book Buddy, Brianna Beard.

“I get to take this home?” Young asked Beard.

Beard smiled and nodded at her 7-year-old Book Buddy and then presented her with two more gifts – a book log that listed all of the books they’d read together over the semester and a bound copy of a story that Young had written herself. The second grader hugged her book log and broke into a proud grin.

Young was one of more than 30 Montlieu Academy of Technology students who attended HPU’s annual Book Buddy End of Year Celebration on Nov. 17. Partnered with their HPU buddies, Montlieu students spread throughout the Stout School of Education to find quiet reading spots, make ornaments for the tree and participate in a book-based scavenger hunt.

Since the beginning of the school year, HPU education majors have been paired with their buddies, spending an hour per week reading, writing and compiling a book log that the children saw for the first time during the celebration. The program aims to encourage and facilitate reading in a one-on-one setting for the elementary school children.

“This year we’ve expanded the program and urged the children to do more than just read with their buddies” said Dr. Leslie Cavendish, assistant professor of education at HPU. “They’ve been not only reading books, but also studying poetry and writing their own stories. As always, our HPU students have gone above and beyond in their commitment to these children. Ask any of them just how much they’ve bonded with their student. It takes time and effort on their part, and we hope that they leave these children with a love of reading and writing.”

Carrying the ornament she had decorated and finding a spot near the tree, 7-year-old Andrea Morrow sat down with her book buddy to read one of her favorite Christmas stories.

More than 30 children from Montlieu Academy attended HPU’s annual Book Buddy End of Year Celebration.

“My favorite part is being with Ms. C,” she said pointing up to Jess Cooley, an HPU junior. “And, my favorite book is the one that Ms. C and I made together. She helped me out a lot, but I did most of the drawings.”

“It’s been a really amazing experience for me,” said Cooley. “I was a little nervous going into it. I wanted to make sure I was doing a great job for her. Over the course of the semester, it has been gratifying to see her grow in more ways than reading, and I’ve grown a lot as a teacher.”

Morrow flipped through the pages of her book log, proudly showing the memories she’d made with her HPU Book Buddy.

A culmination of their semester spent reading together, the binder was filled with photos of every book the two had shared, including notes and photos that Morrow had drawn to illustrate the story lines.

After all ornaments were hung and every gift opened, children were treated to hot chocolate and cookies before posing for a group photo with the nutcrackers stationed outside the School of Education.

Montlieu kindergartner Kayden Ingram walked out and gave his HPU Book Buddy, Erin Groh, a hug before loading the bus back to his school.

“Now, what’s your favorite book of the semester?” she asked him.

“That big one. The one about ‘If You Give a Pig a Pancake.’” He laughed. “Because, it’s about a pig eating a pancake!”  


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