The Power of Rereading with Kids of All Ages
If you’re a parent, the sound of little voices saying, “Read it again!” is undoubtedly something you’ve heard often. The desire to reread a story is very common among young children. And their favorite books always seem to be at the top of the stack. While adults may find rereading children’s books a bit monotonous, young readers and pre-readers savor the repetition of the language and the familiarity of stories, as well as the cozy feeling of sitting close to a loved one with a book. Rereading not only makes children happy, it also builds confidence and enhances reading comprehension.
Familiarity leads to understanding.
Each time a student reads a passage of text, his or her comprehension increases. When reading a classic for the second time, a young reader might realize, “Oh, that’s what it meant when it said, ‘He lived under the name of Sanders.’” These “instant replays” can reinforce new vocabulary, too. Reading books in a series also builds understanding, because the child recognizes familiar characters and gains new insights from seeing similar situations unfold.
Rereading builds confidence.
For young readers, rereading helps build a track record of reading success that results in increased confidence. As they read a well-known story, children may tell themselves, “I can read this. I know this. I think I can, I think I can.” And how many times have you heard your child say, “Oh, I love this part!”? By revisiting their favorite books, kids gain more of the predictability and comfort they love. A young reader might appreciate silly rhyming words, a funny comparison, or a lively description that captures the imagination. Rereading also provides a chance for a child to make connections between a book and his or her own life. For example, a child might read about a dog named Max and realize, “I know a dog named Max!”
Rereading brings enjoyment.
On a second or third read, independent readers can appreciate the author’s craft. This is true for adult readers, too! Every time I reread Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons, I am in awe of the way she makes the journey to the climax without giving the reader a clue to the surprising and devastating truth. When I reread Nicholas Evans’ The Horse Whisperer, I am amazed by the way he introduces a character without using a single adjective, but rather by describing her behavior in such detail that we clearly see her obsessive workaholic personality.
Treasure your favorites!
Do you have favorites that you could read again and again and never tire of the characters or the plot? Books with lines you could recite word for word? For me, it was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. As a girl, I read this book so many times I could quote it verbatim. Even now, many years later, I still remember Marmee March’s advice to my literary idol, her daughter Josephine, known as Jo: “Don’t let the sun go down upon your anger.”
At any age or reading level, the familiarity and repetition of rereading supports valuable literacy skills. But be warned—encouraging this activity may result in children who sneak flashlights into their bedrooms and stay up late reading under the covers. Despite this risk, gaining a solid language arts foundation and a lifetime love of reading makes it all worthwhile.
What were your favorite books as a child—and which stories do your children request again and again? Post your favorites in the comments below.