On the Power of Rereading
I’ve always been what I like to refer to as a ‘chronic rereader.’ It started, of course, when I was a young child and demanded Make Way for Ducklings every night for what probably seemed an eternity to my poor mother. It continued once I learned to read for myself. I had a shelf full of books and would reread them constantly. I vividly remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott books over and over again. In fact, I stopped counting the number of times I’d reread Little Women when I hit 50.
This had certain advantages when I was a child. It built and reinforced a really spectacular vocabulary. I learned a great deal about narrative structure, and am even able to readily predict certain tropes before they are made evident.
In my current position as a children’s librarian, it helps me to defend the reading habits of many of the young people I serve. A parent who complains that all their child wants to read is Diary of a Wimpy Kid books on repeat will find no ally in me. What they will get is an earful about vocabulary development and reading comprehension, as well as fostering a love of reading. Followed, of course, by a list of read-alike titles to suggest but not force on their child.
But what does rereading mean to me now, as an adult? In our current circumstances it provides a great deal of comfort to revisit beloved characters and settings. It also offers an opportunity to reevaluate the books you like to recommend to readers. Do they hold up after a few years? Are they really as great as you remember?
I recently reread some of my favorite books to recommend to reluctant teen readers, Hold Me Closer Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride. I’m pleased to report that they more than hold up. Her world building skills are in great evidence in these books, as is her gift for characterization. If you haven’t had a chance to read these, I strongly recommend them.
So go forth and be a champion of rereading!
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About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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