We’ve got to the end of the school year, and Kate’s older child has got to the end of primary school.
In the course of the last few days, Kate’s had a couple of conversations with parents who have been bemoaning the fact that their children – also coming to the end of primary school – seem to be going through a phase of rereading. And Kate had, co-incidentally, also had a conversation of Dylan Calder, organiser of The StarLit Festival, who does a lot of work on reading and writing in schools at both the top end of primary and the bottom end of secondary, who was talking about the value of rereading for children at transitional times.
Kate agrees about the value of rereading. She thinks it’s a wholly worthwhile activity at a time of transition or at any other time. She just wishes she had more time for it herself. Nowadays, in the course of summer or Christmas holidays, she very occasionally returns to her own grown-up “comfort reads” (a selection would include Persuasion, The Time Traveller’s Wife and some poetry). She also rereads titles whose plots suprise her, to work out how the author has put them together, like The Thirteenth Tale and Fingersmith.
But as a child, she reread books all the time. Flat Stanley, anything by Enid Blyton, The Secret Garden, Charlotte Sometimes, The Doll’s House (Rumer Godden, not Ibsen), The Little White Horse, The Little House on the Prairie, Little Women (interesting “little” theme here), The Lantern Bearers, Anne of Green Gables, and Ballet Shoes all come to mind as books she went back to again and again.
She doesn’t remember reading, or even having, picture books other than a handful of Ladybird fairytales (strange, given how imporant picture books have been to her in her professional life), but, of course, rereadability is key to the appeal of picture books, and, as a parent, she reread favourites over and over again. Pages of the family’s copies of The Big Book of Beautiful Babies, Where’s Spot, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Gruffalo, Once There Were Giants, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Mog the Forgetful Cat, Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, Winnie the Witch and the Katie Morag stories are dog-eared and torn and stuck together with yoghurt.
Now Kate’s children say they reread several of the books she reread as a child.
The Secret Garden
The Doll’s House
Blyton’s Mallory Towers books
The Little White Horse
Anne of Green Gables
They also say they reread these books:
The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler (a good example of a children’s book where the ending is a surprise so you have to go back to see how the author did it)
The Mozart Question
All of the Harry Potter books
All of the Percy Jackson books
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
A Spoonful of Jam
Noughts and Crosses
Walk Two Moons
They say that their friends reread these books:
Enid Blyton books
Michael Morpurgo books
Jacqueline Wilson books
Into the Woods and Out of the Woods
The Lovely Bones (Kate’s pretty horrified to discover this!)
The Dragonfly Pool
The Harry Potter books
The Cherub Books
The Alex Rider books
The Heartland pony/horse books
The school summer holidays are great, unpressured times for rereading… and rereading is to be celebrated.
What do you like to reread now? What did you reread as a child? Let us know by commenting.
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