This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit my two and a half year old nephew. I adore hanging out with him because he loves books! He will always bring me books and curl up in my lap for me to read with him. It’s my favourite part of our visits.
During this visit we happened to get stuck on one book in particular – Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! As with most of Dr. Seuss’ books, this was super fun to read. It has a bouncy rhythm and silly rhymes, and it incredibly easy to memorize, so that when your nephew takes the book away from you but still insists that you read… well, it’s possible. Still, there are only so many times I can chant “Big A, little a, what begins with a?” before I start feeling a little crazy. I had to wonder why my nephew kept insisting that we read the same book over and over again.
And then I laughed at myself.
I am totally a fan of re-reading the books that I read. Growing up, I tended to circulate through the books that I owned and read them over and over again. How many times did I read Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel? Or Tolkien’s The Hobbit? How many times did I pick up the Everworld series by K. A. Applegate? I re-read the first two Harry Potter books so many times that by the time books five and six came out, I had to start the series at book three. I loved all of these books so much that any time I needed something to read they were always on the top of the pile.
I know there are many readers out there who don’t like to re-read books and I can totally understand this mentality. There are so many books in the world, so many books that we want to read – my own to-read list is over 400 now! Why waste the time going back over the novels you have already read when you can better spend your time experiencing new ones?
Yet even now I yearn to read those books again. For me, it’s not wasted time. Re-reading is almost my favourite part, to re-visit the places I’ve created memories and to discover new secrets I didn’t see before. I want to walk through Middle Earth again, explore the hidden spaces of Hogwarts, and navigate the skies on the wings of a bat. I want to search Everworld for Senna, fight by the side of Bilbo, and hang out in the common room with Ginny. Re-reading is taking the time to visit favourite places and old friends, and I can’t imagine never going back.
While “Big A, little a” may not compare to the songs sung by dwarves, I think I may understand a little bit more why my nephew wants to re-read his books. So I will read the book and say the rhymes and chant the verses over and over – because I know the magic of hearing those words again and again.