The Benefits of Reading the Same Books to Your Child Over and Over
Repetition is an important learning tool.
Ask any parent (or grandparent or older sibling or babysitter) and they probably have an array of board books they can recite by heart because they have read them 100 times. Whether it’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Goodnight Moon or one of Dr. Seuss’s classics, when you’re entertaining a youngster you get used to reading the same books over and over (and over and over) again. While parents may dread the prospect of reading Brown Bear Brown Bear one more time, kids never seem to tire of reading the same books every night. Turns out it’s not just that young kids really latch on to one particular story, but that repetition is an important learning tool.
There is a growing body of scientific research that shows that the best way for kids to learn new words is by repetition. As early as eight months of age, children can start learning words that frequently occur in the stories that are read to them. When a child reads or hears the same book multiple times, they become familiar and comfortable with a greater number of words. If you have memorized the book, there’s a good chance that your child has too—and that’s a good thing.
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A recent study at the University of Sussex showed that 3-year-old children who were read the same three books over and over learned more new words than children whose parents read them nine different books. In another study, a 2-year-old child who is read the same story four times instead of just two times improved accuracy in following directions in the story. Similarly, reading the same storybook over and over helped children learn new words, especially for children between the ages of three and five. So when your kiddo begs you to read Good Night, Gorilla yet again, remember it is an important step in their education.
If the idea of reading the same book again still fills you with dread, The Conversation suggests making the task more enjoyable and still helping your child’s vocabulary grow by focusing on a new or different part of the book each time you read it. The folks at parenting website Mother.ly recommend making the reading more interesting by asking questions about the book, pointing out new words, or studying the illustrations together.
If you want your child to grow up with a love of books, it might be worth adding some bedtime reading to your child’s nightly routine. Science shows that activities occurring just before sleep are particularly well-remembered by young children, even if that’s the 300th reading of Giraffes Can’t Dance.