Why repetition is good for children and bedtime stories

Reading the same bedtime story over and over again might feel monotonous to you, but it could help your child learn more new words than if you read them a different story every night.

The finding comes from research by Dr Jessica Horst and colleagues from the University of Sussex.

children and bedtime stories

In an article titled ‘Get the story straight: contextual repetition promotes word learning from storybooks’, published in Frontiers in Psychology , it is revealed that children reading the same book three times were more successful at retaining new words contained within the book than those who read the same new words three times in three different books.

The team of researchers created storybooks especially for the study, and the books were read to 3-year-olds three times in one week – either the same book three times, or three different books, one time each.

Each of the storybooks contained two made-up words, an example being a ‘sprock’, which was the novel name given to a hand-held food-mixing tool. Regardless of whether they heard the same or different books, all of the children heard each novel word the same number of times during the week.

The children were then tested on immediate recall of the word, and later retention of the word using pictures of the novel objects.

The results suggest that seeing the same new word in different contexts may make it more difficult for children to retain the details, while reading the same story several times allows them to first understand the overall story and then focus on the details, descriptions and so on.

So if you’re getting fed up of reading the same story over and over again, remember that it is doing your child’s brain the world of good, even if feels like it is turning yours to mush!

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