After reading the same story multiple times, ever felt the urge to shred the pages of your daughter’s favourite fairy tale book or to accidentally misplace it, so you could read something else? I know I did – I must have read the Billy Goats Gruff story hundreds times over to my daughter Minna when she was about two!
Why does your daughter want the same story over and over again and should you go along with her plea? Well, research has shown that she is indeed right – it is beneficial for her language development to keep hearing the same fairy tale. A study conducted at the University of Sussex showed that children learn new words quicker if they hear them in the same story repeatedly. Children that heard the same new words the same number of time within the same time frame but in different stories were significantly less likely to pick up the new words. Children learn through repetition, this is true for both language and other life skills.
Remember though that reading is always beneficial to your daughter. A different study has shown that there is a clear correlation between children’s performance at school and the amount of storybook reading they have been exposed to. So don’t feel bad if you have been alternating the fairy tales – but please do keep reading.
There are also other factors that impact how beneficial your reading is, as I am sure you know. Your tone of voice, keeping the reading experience interactive through pointing at pictures, asking open ended questions as well as explaining the odd new word all contribute to your girl’s language development. Even the quality of the pictures in a book affects language learning: photos or colourful drawings are more effective than simple line drawings – another thing your toddler has known all along.
With all this, I don’t mean that you should from now on always stick to the same story book. I am just hoping that the knowledge of the benefits of the repetition will ease the pain for you when you are reading Goldilocks for what you feel is the fifty-eleventh time in a week. Enjoy your reading moments with your darling; they are special in more ways than one.
May the peace and power be with you.