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Etoc receives a grant for the project Book Buddies

The impact of a book buddies program on children’s social emotional competencies and bullying behavior
24 January 2011

The Dutch department of Education has awarded researchers from the center for language, education and communication (Etoc), affiliated with the Faculty of Arts, a so-called ‘Onderwijs Bewijs’ prize. Within the programme of ‘Onderwijs Bewijs’ researchers are given the opportunity to collaborate with educational practioners (such as schools) to conduct research innovations focusing on specific educational themes. Etoc submitted a proposal around the theme: behavioral problems and bullying. Etoc will receive 1 million euros to conduct the study.

Book Buddies

Researchers from the Etoc will start a book buddies program at 88 elementary schools in the Netherlands. This project aims to examine the impact of reading aloud and discussing books with social emotional themes on children’s social emotional competencies and bullying behavior among Kindergartners and 11-year-olds (group 7 of Dutch elementary school system).


Children in group 7 will read and discuss a children’s book with a social emotional theme (for example, jealousy, anger) with a Kindergartner on a weekly basis. This project has two primary goals: 1) promoting children’s social emotional competencies (both Kindergartners and 11-year-olds); 2) reducing bullying behavior among children. A subsequent goal is promoting reading pleasure among children.


A total of 88 schools will participate in the study and half of these (44) will be assigned to the book buddies intervention while the other half will function as a control group. The reading aloud sessions will last half an hour each week and take place during one school year. Children in group 7 will be trained in reading and discussing the books with Kindergartners using a DVD. Social-emotional competencies, bullying behavior, language competencies and reading pleasure will be assessed before, during and after the intervention.

Children in group 7 will be held responsible for the reading aloud sessions. In this role they will have to demonstrate social competent behavior. Participating in a responsible role requires self-guidance and communicative and cooperative skills. All children, even the (prospective) bullies and their victims, will gain experience in their role as reader within a different social pattern. This can help children gain skills for interacting with others and reduce behavior problems. We expect the book buddies program to change the school climate and reduce bullying behavior.


The Dutch department of Education has provided a grant of 1 million Euros to conduct the study which will take three years to complete. For more information contact the center for language, education and communication (Etoc) ( or 050 363 7277).

Last modified:09 May 2019 5.38 p.m.
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