Why you should encourage students to read the same book again and again

Why you should encourage students to read the same book again and again

As any parent can tell you, children love to reread the same story over and over again. How many times has a favourite story been reread to a child? 

Parents send children to school who love to reread yet all too often teachers give back children who hate to reread! 

This process starts with encouragement to try out new books and move out of their comfort zone, or reading programs that challenge students to read as many books as possible.

But while re-reading may test out a parent’s patience this practice has a high effect and should be encouraged. After all, as adults we read important documents many times and some of us love to re-read or re-watch favourite books and movies.

Re-reading should be part of the culture in schools. Encouraging re-reading shares a powerful message about learning: that you do not have to remember everything.

Others believe we are not able to understand everything on the first read.  Philosopher and psychologist Riccardo Manzotti elegantly argues that we can only enjoy something after we have experienced something multiple times as the first time we are distracted by too much information and the effort of scanning the lines.  

“When we perceive something new for the first time we cannot really perceive it because we lack the appropriate structure that allows us to perceive it. Our brain is like a lock maker that makes a lock whenever a key is deemed interesting enough. But when a key—for example, a new poem, or a new species of animal—is first met, there is no lock yet ready for such a key. Or to be precise, the key is not even a key since it does not open anything yet. It is a potential key. However, the encounter between the brain and this potential key triggers the making of a lock. The next time we meet or perceive the object/key it will open the lock prepared for it in the brain.” - Ricccardo Manzotti


Based on this theory, you can understand how re-reading will help students get a better Naplan score.

So how do teachers encourage their students to re-read, while still covering everything that needs to be done.

One suggestion from Professor Doug Fisher to encourage re-reading is to implement Flash Back Friday in primary schools. 

This is a time set aside each week when primary school age students are asked to select a favourite book that they can be reread many times.

Alternatively, you can simply change the purpose of a task set for each re-reading of the same piece of text. This forces students to re-read and reconsider the same writing for different meaning and structure.  

Finally, you can encourage students to add notes to the text - but only on a re-read. The first time, they simply read the words. But on the second read through, encourage them to re-read with a pencil and annotate the text.

How to you encourage re-reading in your classroom?