My wife and I share-read each of the Harry Potter books as soon as they came out. We took turns reading them aloud to each other, starting with the first book in 1997. By the time we read Deathly Hallows, the earlier books had faded from our memory and we talked about re-reading them.
Parents will remember the books or series that their kids kept asking for over and over. The books might not have been classics, yet the kids still wanted to hear them. Yet re-reading books is a rare privilege, especially for those of us who delight in and have the opportunity to daily choose new books to devour.
What my oldest son wanted to hear every day was a “Golden Book” version of Jack and the Bean Stalk, featuring Mickey Mouse. Every night it was that same book with a few others rotated in to keep Dad from going insane.
At the time (40+ years ago) I would invite Tyler to participate with me by stopping mid-sentence and voice pointing where he might continue. Having heard it a dozen or more times, he had essentially memorized the book, so as he took over the plot, he was reciting, not reading. As a preschooler he was learning from that how print and books work.
This kind of repeated reading was his choice not because there was any suspense left in the book’s ending, but because there was something special for him in that re-reading. It was how it made him feel, perhaps seeing himself as Mickey, climbing up that beanstalk and cleverly handling the huge giant.
The very best part of re-reading personally rewarding books or classics, especially with someone else, is that the re-read is likely to engender dramatically different conversation the second or twelfth times around. Key to a terrific conversation is the quality of the question a reader or a fellow group member asks, or a poignant contribution about the delayed effect of the book on one reader that sparks similar sharings by others.
Re-reading also can work for individuals who are returning to an old favorite book, perhaps one that we have forgotten about. “Oh, I loved this book!” But why re-read it? We read it already!
I re-read A Christmas Carol, every year—sometimes while I’m traveling or when I find some quiet time as the winter holiday approaches. I’m a person that weeps when I experience others enjoying full happiness. The ending of Dickens’ classic is full of tears for me. It’s not that I don’t remember the book. No not at all. It’s because I do remember it that makes me shed those tears!
Teaching children to re-read* may have as much personal impact as teaching them initially to read. It gives them permission to be an unapologetic reader of personally relevant books.
That result is a priceless gift that keeps on giving.
*For more reasons to honor re-reading, search REREADING in your browser for tons of publications and ideas.