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The Benefits of Reading a Book Over and Over and Over

This past week I took Loren to the library for our usual Thursday morning visit. There was a fun energy in the room as the library staff was working to bring some exciting changes to the children’s wing. Loren gravitated toward the trains, per usual, and then took a moment to lounge in the incredibly comfortable floor chairs, lacing his fingers behind his head for added effect. He’s only 2, but this felt like a typical twelve-year-old move. From the lounge chair, Loren glanced at the new forward-facing book display where the new children’s books will be on display at the library, directly beneath the main window. I pulled a fire engine book from the display, thinking he’d enjoy it, but when he scanned the bookshelf, his eyes landed on a new-to-the-library but much-loved-by-us title, Max and Nana Go to the Park. Loren sat beside me and asked me to read this book to him over and over and over. This is not an exaggeration. He literally asked me to read Max and Nana Go to the Park to him 3 times before he was ready to move on to something else, and only with the promise that we would read it again before bed, which we did…3 more times. The book held his attention even while Beth and Dave were building bookshelves and other families were chatting and playing. I was amazed. It’s rare to get Loren to focus this intently on most new-to-him books at the library, but he was unquestionably absorbed by the book that was familiar to him.

We have no shortage of books in our house. We have a rotating stash of library books on the shelf as well as a budding collection from Loren’s grandmother—a children’s librarian who is always gifting us her favorite titles—but there’s something special about revisiting an old favorite, even for adults.

Research indicates that we reap a variety of benefits every time we pick up a familiar book and read it over and over and over.

The more we read a book, the more we take away from it. This is a great reason for adults to revisit the classics they were assigned in high school. We’re sure to get more from these books the second or third time we read them, especially if we come to them later in life. The more we repeat and review, the more we remember. In a Scholastic article by Jodie Rodriguez she writes that “when kids listen to the same story multiple times, they pick up new information, dive deeper into the meaning of the book, and make connections between themselves and the book—as well as between the book and other books they've heard.” The more time we spend with the characters from our books, the more we connect with them and want to know what’s happening to them. This is partly why readers of all ages are drawn to a good series. We want to know what our book friends are up to, so we keep reading to find out.

According to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 41 percent of kids struggle with finding books they like as they get older, so rereading past favorites is also a great way to continue their reading journey while they search for their next favorite book.

Rereading a favorite book deepens empathy and understanding, it builds fluency for young readers, fuels their initial understanding of language, and boosts confidence. For adults, rereading is an opportunity for fresh insight, greater comprehension, and new meaning. It’s Saturday morning and Loren has requested Max and Nana Go to the Park yet again. We’ve been reading this book nonstop since he rediscovered it this week. And while this repetition can get pretty old pretty fast for parents and caregivers, it helps to remember that you’re not the only one who can recite Goodnight Moon or Chicka Chicka Boom Boom from memory. Plus, now you know of the many benefits that come from reading a favorite book over and over and over.

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