I found out about buddy benches on Facebook, but I could not bring myself to post the writer's words without correcting the punctuation.
Walking through my son's school yard, I noticed a bench on the pavement with bright paint around it. I asked my son, "Is that the only place to sit around here?" And he said, "No, that's the buddy bench. When someone feels lonely or they have nobody to play with, they sit there and people ask them to play."
Isn't this a wonderful idea? All schools should have a buddy bench. I went looking for an image so I could post this, and guess what I discovered?
- The idea was introduced from Germany in 2014, and buddy benches are appearing in schoolyards around the country.
- The little girl above made that Buddy Bench with the help of both of her grandfathers. Click here to read an article about her from the summer of 2020, and notice her mask in the photo.
- There are several children's books about buddy benches. I haven't read these books, but I'm going to share the titles I found, anyway.
The Buddy Bench ~ by Patty Brozo, illustrated by Mike Deas, 2019, children's book
The concept is simple: When a child sits on the bench, it’s a signal to other kids to ask him or her to play. A school playground can be a solitary place for a kid without playmates. Having seen what being left out is like, children become change agents, convincing their teacher to let them build a buddy bench.The Buddy Bench ~ by Gwendolyn Hooks, illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez, 2019, early chapter book
Five friends from diverse backgrounds learn how to navigate common childhood challenges, new experiences, and the world around them in the realistic Confetti Kids books. In this story, Padma is excited about meeting new people at school. Making friends comes easily to her, but she soon discovers that it can be hard for others. When she notices a boy sitting by himself every day, Padma enlists her friends to create a buddy bench, where kids can go if they ever feel lonely and want a friend.
Come Sit with Me: Making Friends on the Buddy Bench ~ by Tina Gallo, illustrated by Luke Séguin-Magee, 2019, children's book
Turn a gray day into all the colors of the rainbow by sitting down on a buddy bench and having a chat with a friend in this imaginative book inspired by Crayola colors. When someone is feeling sad or lonely, it’s up to all of us to help him or her feel better. In this story, a group of kids is creating a buddy bench for the playground, but they can’t decide how to paint it.
The buddy bench launches two new friends on a chilly adventure. On a surprisingly snowy day in Texas, a young student finds himself braving recess alone. That is until he spots a new face sitting on the school's Buddy Bench. After a quick introduction, the two spend their recess discovering fun ways to enjoy the snow. By the end of recess, both children leave the playground with a brand new friend. This sweet story of friendship brings the Buddy Bench's purpose to life. (This one also comes as a video, as shown.)