Have you ever reread a favorite book as an adult? And have you shared that idea with your students? Recently a friend forwarded me an article by David Bowman from the NY Times, called “Read it Again, Sam.” Bowman wrote about several famous authors and the books they choose to read over and over. Stephen King has reread Lord of the Flies 8-9 times and All the Kings’ Men 3-4 times. The novelist and critic Dale Peck attempts to read The Waves annually because it gives him a spiritual feeling. He said. “I always feel like a better person after I put it down.” My husband, an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy books, says he rereads the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Dune series every five years. I, too, have reread my favorites on various occasions. Often in my book group I’ll suggest a book in September that I’ve already read and the club puts it on the schedule for 6 months later. I land up rereading (March, Life of Pi, Room, Hunger Games) because I want it fresh in my mind for the discussion. With every second reading I not only enjoy the book even more but deepen my understandings as well.
“For many readers the habit started in childhood,” writes Bowman. It’s true that teachers always encourage K-2 students to put books in the bookboxes and reread them. For the most part, we are hoping that by rereading books the students’ problem solving of words will become quicker, their fluency will increase, and the reading process system will strengthen. The K-2 students often love when we read favorite pictures books during read aloud time. They also enjoy several readings of favorite Big Books.
But I wonder if we are chatting enough about this idea with kids in our upper elementary classrooms, 3-6 grades. Think about the reasons why adults might reread a favorite book:
- To return to the beautiful writing
- Because we love the characters
- To get back some of the feelings we were left with after the first reading
- Because we enjoyed the storyline
- To deepen our understandings and reflect more on the ideas or issues
- Because we realize it will enrich the discussion with others.
Wouldn’t they be the same reasons for kids?
When The Giver first came out, I remember reading it several times as I facilitated discussions with various groups of students over a three year period. I still loved that book the fifth time through! What if the students had read it two or three times? Would our discussions have been even richer?
Have you talked to your students about the value of rereading?