Embrace reading the same books (over and over again!)

Books are not single use. And for younger children in particular, reading a favourite book over and over again gives them a powerful advantage in learning how language works.

When you try and convince them to choose a different book as you’ve had ‘Eric! The Hero’ every day for the past three weeks, you think you you’re acting in your child’s best interests – trust me, you’re not. The only person to benefit from insisting on a new title, is you (and your sanity!)

As your child sees it, reading is about enjoying a story they love, snuggled up to you. What is actually happening when you read ‘Peace at Last’ for the millionth time is that they are becoming comfortable and familiar with a greater number of words, in context. They are extending their vocabulary. They are becoming more confident in their understanding of how language works.

And when they start to recite the words either independently or as you read, they are already beginning to demonstrate characteristics of ‘A Reader’.

But don’t fall into the trap of sharing it in the same way every time; each time you read the book try to extend the learning opportunities. Good picture books have a wonderful way of making the text interact with the illustrations – often the pictures hold hidden clues that enhance the story.

  • – Go beyond just reading the words; have conversations around the pictures and use richer language each time; ‘Alice’s dress is a beautiful bright blue colour’, or ‘Look, that kite is soaring high in the sky’.
  • – Have conversations about things you can’t see - talk about what the characters might think or feel or how something might smell.
  • – Talk about how the story or pictures relate to your child’s life or your house or your town (or how they don’t).

And for older children? We all learn new vocabulary more efficiently when we are exposed to it in context; rereading books will help reinforce those new words and give your child confidence to use them accurately in their writing or their everyday language. And in terms of comprehension, rereading helps a child delve deeper into the author’s meaning and ‘get’ things they might not have done before.

So as much as you may be tempted, you shouldn’t be hiding ‘Lottie Potter’ down the back of the radiator! Your child will eventually move on to a new favourite and you can start the process all over again!