The Little Learners preschool classrooms at Liberty Elementary School in Big Lake buzz with activity until teachers Kelly Kazeck and Anna Dutke announce the Book Buddies are coming. That is when all the Little ones gather on the floor and wait for their opportunity to hear stories, read to them by fourth grade students. “They really look forward to it,” said Kazeck, once the students were paired up, a preschooler with a fourth grader, and everyone was reading. “At the end of each day we journal and they remember the stories.” “The kids practice to read fluently and with expression,” said fourth grade Teacher Karen Nelsen. “They may have read the book before but it is the first time for the child hearing the story. We want to make it special for everyone.” The exercise is a win-win situation for everyone. As the fourth graders finish their books, they go back to the teacher to be reassigned to another preschooler. “(Principal) Mrs. Le Captain encourages the connection between older and younger students,” said Dutke. “They make friends and the older ones look out for the younger ones.” “They are role modelling for younger students,” Nelsen said. “And you can watch their social skills develop.” Mia Huberty, a fourth grader who read the book Muddy Paws, says she enjoys the opportunity to read to a younger student. “I want to be a prekindergarten teacher myself one day,” she said. “It’s kind of fun and it helps their minds to grow.” Fourth grader Joey Peters, who read a book about a soccer playing frog to a preschooler named Preston, agreed reading to a younger child is fun. “It’s kind of interesting because you can see how they feel,” he said. “You can see how they smile at the book.” Preschooler Thomas Trecha says he likes to hear the stories the fourth graders read. “I have lots of books at home,” he said.