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The Importance of Repetition When Reading

by Shelley Frost

Reading the same story for the fifth time in a row gets old, but your child benefits from repetition of the same text. Whether she reads or listens to you read, the repetition makes the text more familiar, which supports her own literacy skills. Teens and adults also benefit from rereading passages. Keeping the benefits of repetition when reading in mind can make the repetitive reading more tolerable.

New Details

More than one reading of the same text gives the reader a chance to catch details she missed the first time. According to Scholastic, your child may naturally pick up on different details, such as the illustrations, storyline or rhyming words, each time you read the story. You can help by saying things like "What do you see in the pictures?" or "Let's listen for rhyming words this time." The details she notices on repeated readings help your child better understand reading concepts and story features. As an adult learner, you are also likely to pick up new details when you read something more than once. For example, if you reread a passage from a college textbook, you may notice a key definition or explanation of a concept that you missed the first time.

Comprehension

The more you read a text, the better you are able to understand what happens in the story. The first pass through a book is often slower and more difficult for any age of reader. A child may spend more time sounding out words and figuring out their meanings. An adult reader may also come across words that are unfamiliar. The focus on the mechanics often makes comprehension of the passage difficult. When the reader repeats the passage, she is familiar with the words so she can focus more on the point of the story or text. In an article from "The Teaching Professor," Tiffany F. Culver and Linda W. Morse note that reading at a college level often requires reading the text more than once to fully understand the information.

Fluency

Fluency refers to several features of reading, including accuracy, speed and smoothness of reading. A fluent reader flows through the words without stopping to sound them out. The reading doesn't sound choppy or broken, either as you read aloud or in your head. A child who is learning to read or who is attempting a new book usually doesn't read the passage fluently. An adult learner reading a complex passage covering unfamiliar information may also struggle with fluency. Reading the text multiple times helps improve the flow to avoid slowing down or stumbling over words.

Confidence

Increased fluency and comprehension can help build confidence with reading. The text feels familiar, making it easier to read. When a person reads with ease, she sees herself as a reader. For a child who struggles with reading, that confidence boost can encourage her to attempt other books. Your child will encounter reading tasks throughout school, so building her confidence early prepares her for the literacy demands she'll face. Confidence in literacy skills for teens and adults may also reduce anxiety over required reading for school or work.

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