Have you ever read a book twice? Come on now, be honest. I know there is that one (or more) book that you just had to have read more than once. I’ll be honest, I do it all the time. It’s like watching a favorite movie over and over, sometimes I just can’t get enough.
Just to be clear, enjoying a book more than once is nothing to be ashamed of. Kids do it all the time. You probably even know that one child in your life (or you were that kid) who read their favorite book over and over again. Maybe they want you to read it out loud to them, over and over again. Besides enjoyment, rereading books more than once can offer surprising benefits, especially for beginning readers.
Devon Corneal, in his article, “Why Reading the Same Book Repeatedly is Good for Kids (even if it drives you nuts!),” points out that new readers gain advantages beyond pure enjoyment. Vocabulary and word recognition, pattern and rhythm, fluency, comprehension and confidence are all good reasons to crack open that familiar tome. Bonding time is also essential to new readers in order to develop a love of reading. The more kids read, the more varied and expanded their vocabulary becomes. When a child becomes familiar and comfortable with a book, they also become more familiar and comfortable with words. This is especially important to children before they enter school.
But what about you? Why is rereading books important to adults? I do it because I love a good story, and when I find one, I like to enjoy it more than once. But sometimes, reading a book a second time will give me a better understanding of the story, there are complexities that I didn’t see the first time, or maybe I missed something completely. This of course, just makes the story juicier.
So what do I mean by “familiar” books? Usually, it’s not a book I just read. I have gone down memory lane more than once to visit books I enjoyed as a teenager. While these books are not within my reading level, I still love to see what my adult experience has taught me that my teenage self did not understand. I always find something new. I loved reading as a kid and those books still have value in my life. Reading them again adds to my life experience and is rarely redundant.
I have lots of new books on my “to read” list. It’s just one of the hazards of working in a library. But sometimes it’s good to take a break and go back in time to something more recognizable and comforting. We all go through periods of life that are more stressful than others. Sometimes, getting back into a familiar story can occupy time and help reduce stress because the story doesn’t require extra effort to learn and adapt to. I especially like to revisit beloved books during those times. It helps take my focus off worrying, but I still get to visit a favorite place. Usually, when I do have to come back to reality, reality is easier to deal with because I was able to take a step back and relax a little.
So if you find yourself looking for something to read, try a book that you have already read. I have several patrons at the Juliaetta Community Library who come in regularly to find not just their favorite authors, but their already read, favorite books. One patron comes in at the beginning of each summer just to re-read the entire Harry Potter series, a tradition she has kept since the first book was published in 1997!
Though our libraries are still closed at this time, you can place holds on Latah County Library materials and pick them up during scheduled curbside hours. Check our website for details. OverDrive downloadable books and audiobooks are also available.
Erin Davis is the Juliaetta Library branch manager.