Rewards of Rereading

Rewards of Rereading

Goodnight Moon. Green Eggs and Ham. Charlie the Caterpillar. These are some of the standard books of childhood that parents have been reading to their children over and over.Though sometimes we feel like covering our ears when we must read that one book one more time, we at South Hills Academy believe that rereading books is actually a very good thing.

Think about how many times you have rewatched a movie. In SHA’s new film studies class we talked about how we all have that one favorite that we watch on a continuous loop and enjoy every time. Well, in a lot of these movies, there are certain things that we pick up on as adults that most of us are completely oblivious to as children.

In the Disney classic Lady and the Tramp, the kids think it’s cute how the dogs all talk to each other and the scene with Lady and Tramp eating spaghetti and inadvertently kissing is one of the most memorable movie kisses in cinematic history to the point that is has been parodied countless times and has entered the cultural zeitgeist. But as adults, some of the scenes and plot line elements hit us on a deeper level. At one point in the movie, Lady spends the night with Tramp, and at the end of the movie, she has a litter of puppies. In another scene shortly after “that night” Lady has been rescued from the pound and has discovered just how many “lady friends” the Tramp has had. Lady’s neighbor friends, Jock and Trusty, both offer to marry her to “make an honest woman of her.” As a kid, this sailed right over my head, but as an adult who had studied the social norms of early 1900’s America, I was floored that this was in a Disney film. But, it cemented in my mind the importance of coming back to stories and discovering the deeper connotations within them.

The more we engage with a story, the more we take away from it. That is often why, as adults, we choose to reread those classics we were assigned to read as students in school. We’re sure to get more out of the book that second or third time we read it.

Similarly, 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 Great Gatsby is a great example of a novel that, as one rereads it, more is gleaned from the pages with each passing. As a middle school student, I was able to identify the characters and follow the plot, but a lot of it didn’t really sink into my psyche of why this novel is considered a classic. Approaching it again in high school after learning more US history, and later as an adult having more life experience, I understood more about the class struggle between “old and new money,” the roaring 20’s, the early beginnings of the sexual revolution and 1st wave feminist movement, and a host of other things that affected how I view Jay Gatsby and Daisy and their completely dysfunctional telenovela-worthy relationship.

The more time we spend with someone, the better we get to know that person. Books are the same way. The more time a child spends rereading a section, a favorite quote, or the entire book, the more connected the child feels to the story. The key here is that your child chooses to reread the words because they want to engage with the book a second, third, or even tenth time.

Newly independent readers need lots of practice to get past the word-by-word choppy reading into fluent reading. When a child chooses to read a favorite book repeatedly, they are getting lots of practice to build fluency.

So, the next time you see a book on a child’s reading list that looks familiar, this is a chance for you to embrace the concept of rereading and helping your child explore the book and its characters on a deeper level of understanding. We here at SHA encourage everyone to embrace the idea of rereading.  

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