Talking Over Books
"Read it again!"
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Pattern book for language play
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"Read it again!": Some Good Reasons to Do What Kids Ask

If you're like many parents (and teachers) who read to their children, turning the last page of a book means hearing a familiar request: "Read it again." Why, with so many different books, do children ask for the same favorites again and again? To give you stamina and support, here are three good reasons (and some evidence) for turning back to page one.

Young children are reassured and comforted with repetition of the familiar.

The lullabies and rhymes you share, the safety of your lap just before bedtime, the comfort of a story that turns out
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Kids familiarize themselves with books by reading them over and over again.
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just the same no matter how many times it's heard, form some of the best parts of childhood. Repeating patterns within familiar books also reassure and soothe. And—from these repetitions grows the child’s sense of language—its playfulness and meanings. During the extraordinary early learning years, stories, songs, and rhyme plant seeds of sounds and language. So, talk, sing, and tell stories, too, but don’t give up on 'reading again.'

Children who experience the same book again and again talk about it differently over time (and that's good).

Early on, parents point and name or ask: "What's that?" "Bmpphh," replies the brilliant baby. "That's right, it's a ball!" says the proud parent. Early on, too, books aren't read from first word to last, but bouncingly across pictures, with plenty of sounds, jiggles and action, all designed to focus attention and invite language. Over time (and with growth and development), what children say about familiar books changes. Babies ask, "Whazzat?" They point. You label, and before you can "Moo" like Mr. Brown one more time [Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, By Dr. Seuss, Random House], your baby is a toddler and joining in. It's not long before there are names for animals, talk about what they're doing, questions about what's happening, and even critical reaction: "Mr. Brown no can moo!" protests the brilliant three-year-old. Four-year-olds who listened to the same stories in their childcare centers three different times talked more as the story became familiar, asked different (and more high level) questions, and commented on different features. This support for attention, thinking, and language are still more reasons to read again.

Children who are familiar with stories begin to look at print.

It's the children who "know a book by heart" who begin to look at the print. "What's this say?" is the way attention to print can begin. Or: "There's my letter." Very familiar books—those that have been reread many times—are the ones children first "read." That is, they act like real readers until their memories become supported by their understandings of how sounds and letters work. Familiarity with books underlies children’s initial connection of spoken and printed words—the beginning of reading.

As your children babble, point, and make nonsense words, they are practicing to be literate. The next time you hear those words, "Just one more time, p-l-e-a-s-e!" remind yourself that you are laying the foundation for life-long literacy. So—with the same enthusiasm you've demonstrated one hundred times before, warm up those vocals and "Read it again"—as though it were the very first time!


Some Books Worth Talking Over
A-Hunting We Will Go
A-Hunting We Will Go
by Steven Kellogg
(Harper Collins, 1998)
Barnyard Banter
Barnyard Banter
by Denise Fleming
(Henry Holt, 1994)

Do You Want to Be My Friend?
Do You Want to Be My Friend?
by Eric Carle
(Harper Collins, 1971)

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
by Eileen Christelow
(Clarion, 1989)

Good Night, Gorilla
Good Night, Gorilla
by Peggy Rathmann
(Putnam, 1994)

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