Why Do Kids Want Parents to Read the Same Book Over and Over Again?

Read it again, mom: why repetitive reading is normal (and good for preschoolers)

Read the same books over and over again
You might be weary after reading your preschooler's favorite story for the fiftieth time this week, but he is benefitting from it!. Hero Images

You've read Green Eggs and Ham so many times you not only can recite it at will, it's what you crave for breakfast. The rhythm of Chicka, Chicka Boom! Boom!  is so ingrained in your brain that you think  the audiobook is an awesome soundtrack to accompany your workouts. Before turning in to bed at night, you make sure you say goodnight to the stars, and the air, and the noises everywhere.

If you are the parent of a preschooler, surely you can identify.

You'll ask your child if he wants to read a book, and out comes the familiar favorite -- again. Or maybe you just finished reading a book to your little one and she turns the book back to the front cover to start over. At first it may seem cute, but weary parents are definitely wondering, "Can't we read something else?"

While it might drive you crazy, reading the same books over and over again to your preschooler can be quite beneficial. A 2011 study published in frontiers of Psychology found that kindergarteners who were repeatedly read the same book actually remembered the meaning of new words better than children who read different books that contained the same words. There are other benefits too:

Comfort. Reading, hearing, and looking at  the same books over and over again offers kids familiarity and comfort. Preschoolers relish similarity. How lovely it is to climb into the lap of a trusted adult and listen to and look at the pictures of a favorite story.

While there are some personality types who relish knowing what is ahead, this is especially true for little kids.

How books flow. Repeated reading also teaches preschoolers important facets of reading: vocabulary yes, but also how narrative works and the specific roles of the beginning, middle, and ending of a story.

How to read. Books that offer a lot of repeated lines and phrases help your child remember what comes next. Additionally, as your child starts to show signs of reading readiness (pretending to read, telling the story in their own words, and can write his or her own name) your child may memorize their favorite tome and be able to recite them accurately page by page.

How You Can Put Repeated Readings to Work

Still all the benefits of reading the same words over and over again to your prescholer doesn't mean you can't mix it up a little, to help your child actually learn to read themselves. Rather let them sit an passively listen, be sure to let your little one take an active role in your reading aloud sessions:

  • As you are reading, let your child fill in some blanks. For example, if the dog in your child's favorite book drives the red car to the park, try substituting the word "green" or "pool" for park. Did your child notice?
  • As you read, point to every word as you go along. This reinforces that the words on the page actually represent something -- the words that you are saying actually stand for something. Believe it or not this is a tough concept for small children to grasp.
  • Ask your child, "If you wrote this book, what would you do differently?" Would your child change the ending? Make new characters?

When a child is able to recite a book (or most of one) word for word, it builds their confidence. It takes courage to learn to read and using books that offer repetition is a great way to have your child feel good about what they are doing.

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