"Let's Read It Again!"

Just as children hold up their favorite PJ Library books, requesting "Read it again," so too do the Jewish people say "Let's read it again" during Simchat Torah.

During this time of Simchat Torah, when we finish reading Deuteronomy and return Genesis, a great question to ask is: What are the benefits of "reading again"?


Many early reading experts say much the same thing: Young children have to hear stories before they can read them.

The child-centric community organization Kiwanis International offers tips for parents who read aloud. "Read at least three stories a day," the organization writes. "It may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they begin to learn to read."

PBS, too, extols the virtues of repetition as a beneficial practice for engaging early readers. "Toddlers often show clear preferences and will ask to have a book read over and over again," PBS writes on its Reading & Language webpage. "Reading a favorite book ... for the one hundredth time will actually help your child relate what he hears to the words and letters on the page."

Moreover, as PBS points, knowing a book inside and out helps young readers to understand the parts of a story, which in turn helps them to read other books. PBS writes:

Toddlers learn about the structure of stories from books. Through reading different books, toddlers learn that most stories contain the same parts: a setting, characters, a series of events that lead to a problem, and a solution to the problem. When your toddler understands the way most stories are built, it helps her to understand new stories that are read aloud to her. Years later, this will help her to understand stories she reads independently.


In a 2009 New York Times editorial titled "Some Thoughts on the Pleasures of Being a Re-Reader," Verlyn Kinkenborg talks about a child's love for re-reading.

"The love of repetition seems to be ingrained in children," he writes. "And it is certainly ingrained in the way children learn to read — witness the joyous and maddening love of hearing that same bedtime book read aloud all over again, word for word, inflection for inflection."

As Kinkenborg points out, however, that same love can be found in adult readers, too. Why? Simple. He writes, "The real secret of re-reading is simply this: It is impossible. The characters remain the same, and the words never change, but the reader always does."

Early reading expert (and PJ Library consultant and speaker) Diane Frankenstein is a long-time supporter and advocate of re-reading books to children -- and she, too, is a devoted adult re-reader herself.

Frankenstein sees repetition as being an integral part of the reading process for everyone. In fact, she advises each reader, no matter the age, to "treat yourself and reread a favorite book." She writes, "Not only do you reap the benefits of meeting an old friend you loved [when you re-read], but you also discover a different you who is now reading the book, but with different eyes.

What are your favorite books to reread? Share your picks with us on Facebook and Instagram, using #pjlibrary

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