Reading Pen Pals   Reading Pen Pals    

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For Teachers

Include Reading Pen Pals in your English, Humanities and Reading classes! Here are a few suggestions.

Elementary  |  Middle and High School

Elementary School Teachers:

Reading group literature response: Read one of the books on our list with a reading group and print out the book's review for the group to read and respond to. Members of the group can answer the reviewer's questions in a group discussion or write responses individually. Then email the group's response to the reviewer using the link provided with each review.

Self-motivated, independent readers: Many fluent readers in the elementary grades need to work on their comprehension skills. Have them choose a book from our list to read and respond to when they are finished with other assignments. Our reviews are full of great questions that encourage readers to use these essential comprehension skills:

  • drawing on their background knowledge to inform their understanding of the story,
  • making connections between their own lives and the story and characters,
  • comparing themes in a story with those in other books.

Read-aloud responses: Take ten minutes a day to read a book listed on our site aloud to your class. Collect your students' thoughts and their answers to the reviewer's questions and email them to us. The reviewers would love to hear from any number of students and are committed to writing back to you.

Become a pen pal yourself: See below for how you can become a Reading Pen Pal.

Middle and High School Teachers:

The reluctant reader or writer: Often older kids who are reluctant to read or write will sit in class during individual work time, doing very little of the assigned work (even—or especially—if it’s very open-ended). Send them over to a computer, hook them up with, and have them browse the letters until they find a book they’d like to read and write about! You may find your reluctant student requesting extra time to work on a letter to his or her new pen pal!

The avid or advanced reader: When a student finishes the work you’ve assigned sooner than everyone else does, send her/him to at your classroom computer.

Computer lab sessions: Take your whole class to the computer lab once every few weeks for a session of letter-browsing at You might require that everyone pick a book from our site to read two or three times during the school year. That way everyone will also have a pen pal and a chance to practice their writing skills. Find the books your students choose in your school or public library*, have kids begin reading them, and organize a letter-writing session a week or two later. (Students can write their first letters back to the pen pals before finishing the books.)

Assigned reading: Choose a book one of our pen pals reviewed in a letter for your whole class to read.* As students make their way through the book, ask everyone to write back to the class pen pal (or use this as an extra assignment for kids who have time on their hands, especially interesting interpretations of the book, or who need some help drawing their thoughts out in an informal way).

Parents who ask for book lists: Often parents request reading recommendations for their children. Tell them about They can help their children access the site at home. Or they can browse the letters themselves to find books for their kids.

Become a pen pal!: Contribute letters about your favorite books for kids. (Follow the instructions on our home page.)

*If your budget allows, order extra copies of the books appropriate for your students using our book cover links. This will support and build up your classroom library.


Got an idea?
Send us your feedback and we can include your ideas in our site for other teachers to use! Or just let us know how you're using the site.