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School’s out… so it’s time for rereading.

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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
Charlotte Sometimes
Ballet Shoes
Anne of Green Gables
Little Women

They also say they reread these books:

Just William
Chinese Cinderella
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
Cloudbusting
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
Twilight
The Lovely Bones (Kate’s pretty horrified to discover this!)
The Dragonfly Pool
The Harry Potter books
The Cherub Books
Beano annuals
Tintin books
Artemis Fowl
The Alex Rider books
Clay
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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9 Responses to “School’s out… so it’s time for rereading.”

  • We are constantly re-reading books in our house. I re-read both children’s and adult books. Here are some of them:-

    Charlotte’s Web
    A Dog So Small, Phillipa Pearce
    Fat Boy Swim, Catherine Forde (three family members have re-read this)
    The Midnight Fox, Betsy Byers
    Elizabeth the Queen, Alison Weir
    Stalingrad, Anthony Beevor

    and many more!

  • These are all very familiar re-reads but the two books that I remember particularly loving and returning to again and again were titles that had been my mother’s childhood books, so from the 40s, – one called SILVER SNAFFLES by Primrose Cumming, the other SAID THE DOG TO THE CAT – I can’t remember who it’s by. Strangely, they are both stories about children who can talk to animals.

    Actually now that I think about it, loads of my favourite books involved children entering the world of animals: THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, THE SWORD IN THE STONE, JENNY, CHARLOTTE’S WEB, the list goes on. Perhaps that explains why I talk to my cat so much now. (He doesn’t answer back, sadly.)

  • I am constantly re-reading. Mostly Roald Dahl who I’ll never tire of, but I’ve also been re-visiting Enid Blyton recently who had a huge impact on me and my sense of adventure when growing up. There are many more!

    Re-reading with my little boy (20 months old) means Room on the Broom, Gorilla by Anthony Browne and Meg and Mog – those are his three obsessions at the moment and we will be reading, re-reading and reading some more for a long while yet I think!

  • I also reread “The Little White Horse” over and over as a child!

    These days I have reread “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” whenever I feel in need of a pick-me-up, also “Eat, Pray, Love”. I often return to Pride and Prejudice and His Dark Materials. I think great books can stand up to lots of rereadings, although some are never quite the same after the first time.

  • When I was small I hardly re-read anything, mainly due to my mother’s attitude of ‘You’ve read it once. Why read it again?’ which resulted in lots of trips to the library but not much purchasing of books. As an adult I re-read lots of favourites – any Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf or Iain Banks; Possession, Cold Mountain, Shopaholic series… When I feel the shelves need a clearout, I pick out the ‘only read once’ books, re read them and if it wasn’t time well spent they go to the charity shop.

  • I am a very big (not literally, perfectly normal sized!) re-reader, i just love to re-read a book i have previously loved. I am slightly bashful to admit that my re-reads as a “grown up” are mostly, but not always, books I read as a child or teenager. My number 1 re-read, absolute fave(s), is Adrian Mole aged 13 and 3/4, and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, by Sue Townsend, I also love to re-read Just William, which I clearly remember being read to me as a child. My list also includes The Compleet Molseworth, by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle, which is a brilliant book, as any fule kno! Also Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Jane Eyre, varying Agatha Christie’s and I have been known to re-read Are You There God It’s me Maragaret (I always give as a gift to the pre-pubescents that I know), To Kill a Mockingbird, Harry Potter(s), Rebecca, Alice’s Adveture’s in Wonderland, The Great Gatsby, the list goes on…

    My 4 year old son’s fave re-reads are: The Gruffalo, Elmer The Patchwork Elephant, Emily Brown, various Berenstein Bears, The Cat in the Hat, The Snail and The Whale, A Squash and a Squeeze, and Ambrose Goes for Gold (Tor Freeman).

  • For me? As a child, molesworth and Just William. Today, molesworth and Just William – and Dickens, Waugh and Wodehouse.

    When my daughter was younger, she always returned to Dorothy Edwards’ My Naughty Little Sister books. They offered plenty of “mild peril” followed by redemption and safety, and were enhanced by having been written around the same streets where we lived.

    Now she’s 15, The Pursuit of Love is the one she keeps going back to.

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