Second Grade Buddies2 min read

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss.

Students in Mr. Brandt’s AP Literature classes at Lutheran High School North in Macomb, Mich. would agree with Dr. Seuss. They’ve travelled to a Brave New World, marched with Achilles on the shores of Troy and, with Robert Frost’s help, discovered that good fences do not make good neighbors.

What his students didn’t realize is that one of the places reading would take them was into his wife’s second grade classroom each month to read, write, make and share books with their second grade reading buddies.

At the year’s start, John Brandt and his wife Ronda, who teaches second grade at St. Peter Macomb Lutheran Grade School, match up their students for a year-long reading and writing odyssey.

“It’s fascinating to watch my seniors interact with my wife’s second graders. They are nervous about meeting them and excited about spending the year writing and reading books together,” stated Brandt.

Each month the reading buddies meet to plan, create, write and share stories. Between meetings, both classes spend time crafting stories and exchanging ideas and illustrations for the next month’s meeting.

“My students write notes to their second grade buddies asking them to write or illustrate a portion of a story. At first the notes are brief, but as the year progresses the notes get longer because, as they get to know each other, they write about a lot more than stories. Soon birthday cards, winter pictures, Christmas greetings and weekend highlights make their way into the notes students exchange,” stated John Brandt.

In addition to writing and reading stories, the seniors invite their second grade buddies and their families to Lutheran North’s gym to watch a girls’ basketball game. “My kids love Reading Buddy Basketball Night because they get to sit with their high school buddies during the game and they love the uniform relay race at halftime,” stated Ronda Brandt. An interesting feature to this year’s Reading Buddies is that twelve of the twenty-four second grade parents are Lutheran North graduates. Many of those graduates sat in Mr. Brandt’s English classes.

The year culminates in a puppet show written, performed and directed by the students. “My students invite their parents to Lutheran North and treat them to some of the greatest puppet shows on earth. It’s a wonderful way to end the year,” stated Ronda Brandt.

Picture caption: Garrett Monroe, a senior at Lutheran High School North, discusses the finer points of story writing with his second grade buddy, Christopher Gottschalk, from St. Peter Lutheran School in Macomb, Michigan.

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About the Author

Dr. John Brandt is the Executive Director/Principal of Valley Lutheran High School in Saginaw

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