What About Older Kids? Should They Be Rereading Books?


     Earlier this week we talked about the benefits young children get when they reread picture books over and over.  (Is It Okay For Young Children to Reread Books Over and Over?)  It helps build reading confidence, vocabulary and an understanding of sentence structure.  Perhaps most importantly, it assists in instilling an identity as that of a reader.

     But what about big kids who go back to reread the same novel over and over?  One parent wondered out loud why they would waste their time if they already know how the story ends?  

     There are several reasons why bigger kids decide to reread a book.  The most obvious is because they just simply really liked it.  There’s something in the plot, characters or the over-arching themes that speaks to them as an individual, and they want to re-experience that.  They also already know the characters and are familiar with the setting, so it offers a sense of comfort.

     I noticed after my daughter tackled a particularly challenging trilogy of books, she immediately went back and reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I think she just needed a break.  She wanted something fun, easy and familiar.  Something that wouldn’t tax her brain too much.  Isn’t this the very same reason we adults love romance novels, pulp mysteries and westerns? 

     There may also be a deeper level to this issue.  Frequently, it isn’t until we get to the end of a novel that we realize there’s more than just what’s on the surface.  Stories have different levels that contain different meaning.  When you reread a book, you already know the basic plot so you pay attention to, or notice, other elements in the story.  In that way, a second pass deepens and enriches the experience more than that of reading the book for the first time.

     When a child first encounters Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the only information they have about Harry is what they’ve just read in the previous pages, but when they read it a second time, they already know the whole story, so they can now examine and reflect upon Harry’s world and situation in an entirely different way.  When Harry is dropped off at his aunt and uncle’s house by Hagrid, the reader may now feel differently about Hagrid leaving poor little Harry in such an unwelcoming environment.  Yet, the reader now knows that in less than 100 pages, Hagrid will reappear as the boy’s champion.  Thus, the reader observes the nuances of the story differently upon a second or third reading.

     As a parent don’t be too upset if your child continues to go back to a favorite book over and over.   Yes, we want to help guide them to finding new favorites but in the long run, there’s nothing wrong with rereading a beloved book once, twice or even more.