It is a scene that any parent will find familiar, played out in households every day all over the world. Parents put aside their work or settle down beside beds in the evening to read to their children – only to react with amused exasperation when their kids pull out the same dog-eared book they have been reading for the last month.
Children process information differently from adults, and repetitive reading is one way they can get the most out of their books.
Why Do Children Love Reading the Same Book Over and Over Again?
Children find comfort in familiarity
Like most people, children instinctively seek out familiarity rather than novelty.
Younger children require longer to encode information than older children – but they also forget this information faster. Repeated exposure to the same thing over and over again helps to cement the new information in their growing brains and encode it permanently.
In fact, in a study involving toddlers, children who read the same story four times were much better at reproducing the actions needed to make a toy rattle, as compared to the children who only read the same story twice.
Reading the same book helps children with word recognition
It is a known fact that reading widens children’s vocabularies. In fact, children learn by repetition. When parents sing ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ over and over again as children listen to the people around them speak, they pick up keywords based on how often they are repeated.
Therefore it is no surprise that for children, reading a book multiple times helps them to become more familiar with a wide variety of words. As they connect the idea that writing represents words, they will also recognise these oft-repeated letters and words much quicker, as well as how words join together to make grammatical phrases and sentences.
You might not think storybooks are complicated, but they contain 50% more rare words than prime-time television and even college students’ conversations! This is vital for expanding little vocabularies.
Multiple readings help to lay a solid phonics foundation
In the same vein, rereading books also help children grow more attuned to the various sounds and help them enunciate better. When parents read aloud to their children, they provide a phonetic context that teaches their kids how certain words are pronounced. Seeing the word on the page and listening to it being read over and over again helps to bridge this phonetic gap.
It would also aid them in learning new words as they understand how to pronounce new words based on existing knowledge. Having a bigger vocabulary will also imbue them with more ways of expression, thus increasing their confidence.
This applies to older children just the same as younger children, where repeated reading is used deliberately as a strategy to help struggling readers improve.
Reading the same book repeatedly improves comprehension
In the same way that we read a text over and over when we are studying for an exam, re-reading a book helps children to learn more about what they are reading every time. Each reading may provide more insight – perhaps they finally understand why cows go ‘moo’ and pigs go ‘oink’, or perhaps they may suddenly notice something funny in a particular illustration.
Each reading produces another layer of comprehension. It is only through multiple readings that will kids start to really understand the various nuances of the narrative – whether through the characters or the plot – and how they interweave and interplay as part of the whole.
Once kids feel that they have gained everything they can from a particular book, they usually start looking for new books to latch onto!
Reading to your children is crucial for development
A love of reading at a young age provides a good basis for future learning, and parents can further nurture this by providing kids with adequate resources to explore various forms of literature. Give your children a variety of books to choose from – different genres, lengths and reading levels.
George R. R. Martin once said: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…the man who never reads lives only one.”
Most adults do not read as much as they should, which is why parents should take the opportunity to read alongside their kids – yes, even if it means having to read the same book over and over again.
Reading programmes lay the foundation for future learning success
Beyond enjoying early exposure to books, kids could also attend phonics classes or reading programmes, such as the MindChamps Reading programme for more structure. These programmes not only encourage them to read more but also inculcate a love for reading from the early years. In our reading programme, your child will develop skills that will help them become a skilled and confident reader over time.
Are you unsure if your child is meeting literacy milestones? A complimentary literacy assessment, specially designed to provide a comprehensive and accurate measure of your child’s reading ability, could help to shed some light for you.
Find out more about Reading Programmes that are tailored to your children’s individual needs!
Written by Danielle Hee