“The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind
His mother called him ‘WILD THING’ and Max said, ‘I’LL EAT YOU UP’
So he was sent to bed without eating anything”
(Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak)
I did that from memory and I could keep right on going to the end. Impressive, right? Maybe you can do that too. Where the Wild Things Are was one of my son’s favorite books when he was little, which means that I read it approximately one million trillion gajillion times. I had it memorized. HE had it memorized. And twenty-five years later, I can still recite it word for word. (That has actually come in handy with the grandkids.)
“Read it again, Mommy!” Why is it that kids can listen to the same story over and over? As it turns out, reading the same stories repeatedly has a lot of value. In our younger preschool classes, we read the same story for a whole week. As children become familiar with the story, they begin to understand concepts on a deeper level and become more familiar with words they haven’t heard before. The first time we read a story, we are often stopping to ask children to make predictions about what will happen next. The second time through, they are able to understand the meaning of the story on a new level. The one hundredth time through, unicorns will burst into the room and jump over rainbows. (Ok, I’m just making that part up.) Repetition is key to helping kids master new concepts.
We also encourage kids to retell the story at home (sometimes sending home props to help them remember) because this is an important pre-reading skill. Retelling the story checks comprehension to make sure they understand what they have read/heard. It also encourages vocabulary development, teaches them that written words have meaning, and helps them understand that stories have a beginning, middle and end. If you need to spice things up, just try changing parts of the story to see if they notice. (Who am I kidding? They ALWAYS notice.)
Remember these things when you are losing your mind because you’ve read the same bedtime story every day for 3 weeks. And who knows? Maybe someday you’ll get to recite it for your grandkids too.
These are two of my favorite wild things: