The Joy of Rereading

E Reading

“I’m reading!” my toddler insists.  E will not even look up to listen to my question or comment about the book he’s reading. When he’s into a book, he’s fully engaged.  Though I feel a little sad by this early independence, I also am very happy.

I have been reading to E since he was in the womb.  At 2 1/2, he makes his teacher-mama proud.  He loves books and often wants us to read to him.  He always asks for one more book and then another “one more book” before naps and bedtime.  When things get too quiet in the house and we can’t see E, we often find him in front of the bookshelf or in a corner of the room, surrounded by books, reading them to himself one by one.

E’s bookshelves have gotten a bit overcrowded lately.  I recently tried to hide away some seasonal and simpler books until E’s sister arrives in the fall and we get a new set of shelves for her room.  Tonight, after not seeing them for two weeks, E was asking specifically for some of these hidden books.  Even with newer books and library checkouts at his fingertips, E does not tire of reading the old books.  He simply loves to reread.

This makes me think about the rereading my students do and that I do as an adult. Many students seem to have their “go to” books–trusted books they know will satisfy again and again.  Sure, I want them to stretch their wings and find new titles, new genres.  I can’t deny them, however, that pure joy of a story well told.

I know that satisfaction too.  Like listening to a good song again and again, when I reread I rediscover old friends, uncover new beauty, and gain new understandings and appreciation.  Most times, I do choose to read new books.  So many books, so little time, right?   But what if I do take that break from the new and go back to the old?  What might I gain?  Looking at the joy on my son’s face as he pours over each page of that worn, drool-encrusted book I tried to hide, I think I might gain quite a bit!

My unfinished list of books to reread:

  • Walden, by Henry David Thoreau–Fell in love with it at 16, though I couldn’t fully understand it.  Reread it at 25.  What a different perspective as I reread!  How would it appeal to me at 40?
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott–A childhood favorite–I may make myself wait a bit longer and read this with my children.
  • Any Harry Potter book, by J.K. Rowling–I know what will happen, but I never tire of the characters and the pure imagination behind the series.
  • The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver–This was the first of her novels that I read, and I felt like I had found my author-soul sister.
  • The Shipping News, by E. Annie Proulx–She’s my other favorite author, and this is the first of hers that I read.  I still can picture and feel the stark, chilly setting.
  • Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini–Such a tragic and beautiful story!

What books would be on your list?

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7 thoughts on “The Joy of Rereading

  1. Stacey Bellows says:

    Children love to not only read and reread but every task must be done and redone until it is fully learned. I was reading an article about toddlers in high chairs dropping things on the floor. Each time they get a new reaction from the adult so let’s do it again and see what happens this time. Books provide comfort and imagination and a sense of independence for kiddos. I now read one book for a whole week with my 4 year olds and by the end of the week, they read it to me and then they keep reading it in the library area all year! How empowering!! Way to go, E!! For me Harry Potter, Ahab’s Wife, Miss Rumphius (does E have it??), The Gruffalo, The Rattletrap Car…. Also love The Bean Trees!

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    • Stacey, it’s great to hear your early childhood wisdom on the topic. How wonderful for your 4 year olds to be so exposed to such great literature. I don’t know about Miss Rumphius. We’ll have to check that one out from the library. I still have yet to read Ahab’s Wife, though I know you recommended that year’s ago. The Gruffalo and Rattletrap Car? Are those kids’ books? Will have to check them out.

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  2. The thing I miss most about teaching is rereading children’s books. Maybe I should read to Shelby when she’s sleeping. I’ve reread David Sedaris’s books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, His Dark Materials, Julia Child’s memoir, and Fried Green Tomatoes many times. I often “reread” books by listening to the audio versions. It offers a new way into the story via someone else’s voice, and I can exercise at the same time! I have a friend who reads To Kill A Mockingbird every year. I’m way too distracted by new, shiny books to reread something every year, but I love the idea.

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    • I’m sure Shelby would love to hear some great children’s books. I don’t know her well, but I’m thinking she may also like some of the other books on your list. Maybe throw a dog book in there too, like Shiloh or Where the Red Fern Grows. I totally agree about listening to the audio versions for your rereading. I especially did that with the Harry Potter books. The actor that read those was AMAZING. When the plots got especially good, however, I would often have to go off audio and devour the books in person again on the couch.

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  3. Jill says:

    Oh oh Oh! I can’t imagine anything better than re-visiting my favorite friends in books. For me, it’s Harry Potter as well. The world I get to journey to each time I crack the spine open is a million times better than the boring, non-wizarding world in which I currently reside. I could read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane time and time again. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger makes me cry every single season. And Nicholas Sparks books are my light, easy read books to read over and over when I need to be part of a ridiculously romantic world that would drive me insane were it a reality for me. 🙂

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