The Buddy Reading Experience with Shamima R.

By: Thea, Riley’s Way Intern

My name is Thea Berman, and I’m an intern here at Riley’s Way as well as an alum from the Nightingale-TYWLS East Harlem Council! Through my internship, I am working closely with the Buddy Reading Program, and on June 1st, I met with Shamima R. over Zoom, who has been an active member of the program this semester. The Buddy Reading Program pairs New York City high schoolers and elementary school students with the goal of building connections and improving literacy skills. For 30 minutes each week, buddies engage with one another over Zoom to read a book, check in, draw, and play games. It’s been a challenging year adapting to online learning, so I wanted to hear from her first-hand about her experience as a buddy reader. Read below for a transcript of our conversation!

Thea Berman: First off, how has your school year been going? Were you able to attend in-person classes or was it all online?


Shamima R.: For my school it was all online. There was an option to go in person, but I decided not to, so it was all remote.


TB: How has that been? Have you adjusted to it yet?


SR: Yeah, I was able to adjust to it. It was kind of distracting since there’s a lot of other things to do at home, but I’ve been able to do all my work and pay attention in all my classes.


TB: That’s really great! So, tell me why you decided to join the buddy reading program.


SR: At my Saturday School before COVID during the summers, I helped out with the little kids. I helped write and read with them, so I thought this would be fun since I’m already used to it. I just thought it would be fun!


TB: That’s awesome. So, what has been the most rewarding part of being a buddy reader?


SR: I think it was just being able to read with someone else and being able to help them. With my buddy, I helped her with words she might not have known, and it seemed like she had fun as well. It was just fun seeing that.


TB: Do you have any fun anecdotes to share?


SR: For the last session– I know it’s buddy reading­– but we played, the drawing game!


TB: How have you been able to adapt to the online setting?


SR: It took some getting used to for buddy reading since I have to share my screen and keep my camera on. My camera is on my phone so I had to learn how to handle being on my phone and computer at the same time, but I got used to it quickly.


TB: What have been the most challenging aspects of the program?


SR: It was the online aspect. It took some time to make sure to set up Epic, and I had to remind my buddy to set up the meeting– but it wasn’t something I couldn’t overcome.


TB: What skills do you think you’ll take away from the program?


SR: Just being able to connect with kids that are younger that don’t know how to read as quickly– it took some patience! I think it will help me if I want to become a teacher in the future.


TB: That’s great! I have one last question– what are some of your favorite books you’ve read either on your own or with your buddy this year?


SR: My favorite books I’ve read with my buddy are all of them– it was fun to read books you didn’t have to write an essay about later! It was fun to read books with a quiz at the end, because it was an activity you can do to engage them at the end. We did read a Scooby Doo story, and I really like Scooby Doo so that was great.

To learn more about the Buddy Reading Program, you can check out our website and local news coverage of the program.