Daddy, can we read this book AGAIN?
Masters in parenting series
The Very Hungry Caterpillar must have turned into a “bootiful butterfy” 10,000 times in my house.
"On Saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami..."
When my oldest child was 2, he could recite this line in his sleep, with one eye closed and one arm tied behind his back (not that any of that matters, but he could have).
A cool study done by Dr. Jessica Horst at the University of Sussex shows that reading the same books over and over (and over and over) can help to stimulate your child's language development. The study looked at reading children books with new words. One group heard the same book every time while the other group heard different stories. Children in the "same story" group learned the words better and retained them longer than those who heard the words from different books, showing that it can be beneficial to read the same stories repetitively.
Because we are a "nerdy" family and both my wife and I love to read, our kids get lots of books for presents. I sometimes feel guilty when I see the pile of books that we have read a few times while my kids go back to the same three books over and over again. This study is a good reminder that this is OK.
Here are some tips to take away from the study:
- Read to your child. If you aren't reading to your child daily, this study doesn't really help you much. (Link back to reading article)
- Don't worry about reading the same books again and again (and again and again), your child’s vocabulary will thank you for it.
- You don't have to buy every single book in the series for a young child. So, save yourself some money and bookshelf space. As your kids get older, they will appreciate the variety ... for now, most like the routine.
There are some ways you can keep your mind in the game while reading the story for the 1000th time and to maximize your child's learning as well. I'll address those next time, so stay tuned!
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.