Reading Pals has adapted to the pandemic by providing online, video training for adults and children. This makes it possible for parents, carers and school staff to set up Reading Pals and Reading ELF at school, or at home.

Emotional Literacy Friend (ELF) supporting Mental Health

Three of the books used in the ELF scheme would be particularly helpful for children who may be having difficulties with anxiety and/or attachment, therefore finding it difficult to return to school. Schools can use the books and resources with older children first, these children can then go on to use the resources to support younger children. This could either be with siblings working together in school in cross-age groups, or at home; or it could be done virtually with cross-age peers using tablets to work together online.

Cross-Age at School during social distancing

In Autumn 2020 it is likely that age groups will not be able to mix freely due to social distancing, this makes cross-age activities more difficult. In this situation the Reading Pals coordinator can set up cross-age, sibling pairs in school who can continue to support each other at home. This would be particularly helpful should the school need to temporarily close again. It would also be helpful for siblings that the school feel would benefit from additional support with home reading; perhaps because carers are disengaged, too busy to read with their children, or whose English language skills are limited.

The scheme could also be used virtually with cross-age peers listening to reading and discussing books using the school’s tablets. This would be a lovely way to maintain links between the age groups and strengthen the school community.

Once the schools are able to have classes mix freely again the Older Pals will be trained and ready to work with their younger peers in cross-age groups.

At Home

Parent and Child

The scheme provides support for parents in supporting their child’s literacy by reading with their child themselves. The Reading Pals scripts ‘train’ the parents in effective questioning and facilitate the development of good speech and language strategies. These skills can then be developed further through the books and resources provided in the ELF scheme.


The scheme has been successfully used at home by siblings with at least a two year age gap. Parents had found that often the older sibling had already naturally started to help their younger sibling by reading to them. The scheme builds on this natural connection by training the older Pal in useful skills and activities to support their sibling with reading, speech and language skills and emotional literacy.

Reading Pals Community Interest Company is keen to provide as much support as possible to schools with high levels of deprivation and disadvantaged families at this difficult time. We are therefore offering the training and resources package at 50% of the original cost during Spring Term 2021. Please see contact page for original cost and use contact form for more information regarding potential discount and packages available.