Several months ago, back in November, I was checking up on all of the different teacher blogs I follow and came across a post by Mr. Colby Sharp on the Nerdy Book Club blog. It was an interview with the creators of Battle Bunny or, at least, an attempt at an interview. I had never heard of Battle Bunny before, so I didn’t quite get what was going on with the interview, but I was laughing out loud the whole time anyway! So then I looked up the book they were talking about and it all made sense.
Jon Sciezska and Mac Barnett teamed up to creatively rewrite a book the way they had when they were young. But they decided that they couldn’t do that to just anyone’s book, so first they wrote a book to rewrite. They wrote a cheesy picture book called Birthday Bunny and then, with the help of Alex, rewrote it as Battle Bunny. I have been trying to hunt down a copy of this book for months and finally found an available copy at the Champaign Public Library. I picked it up this week and shared it with my class today.
Then I gave them a writing assignment to do with their reading groups. A student had brought in several picture books from when she was younger to donate to our school book exchange. I asked if I could go through them first. I selected the five Disney Pixar books based on the movies. Each group got to select one of the books and then, armed with their creativity and a permanent marker, were given the task of rewriting them.
The Incredibles became The Cannonballs, a book about villains taking over the world. Finding Nemo became Dying Nemo: The Zombie! Toy Story 2 became EVIL Story 2. And Ratatouille became Poisontouille. All of my students have been laughing as they have worked together to creatively rewrite these well-known stories. They are having to figure out how to use the pictures and the printed text to come up with the new stories, but they also know that they can use their markers to adjust as necessary. This will be a writing task that they continue over the next week as they work together to finish, then they will share the books with their classmates!
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Anything worth reading is worth reading well. And anything worth reading well once is worth reading well multiple times. At least, that is my approach to reading. There are many, many, many books that I have read three, four, ten, even twelve times or more in my life. Each time I re-read, I find something new about the story, about myself, or about both. It is awesome. I love reading things over and over again!
I know some people who don’t feel this way. They want to read once and then be done with it. Several of my students were like this at the start of the year. But I have tried to instill in them the belief that repeated reading is worthwhile and I think several of them have come to appreciate its value. I had been thinking about this topic a bit recently and so was quite delighted to stumble upon a school website from Anaheim, California, that had a principal’s message about repeated reading.
Why is repeated reading so important? There are several reasons:
- It helps build comprehension: as you read text again you become more familiar with what you have read and will remember the details with more clarity.
- It helps develop accuracy: as students read the same thing repeatedly, they increase their ability to decode words, remember the words when the see them again, and improve decoding skills when engaging with other texts.
- It helps build up fluency: the more you read the better you read! Students who read repeatedly improve their expression, their tone, and their voice.
- It helps expand vocabulary. I have always loved reading. I also have an extensive vocabulary. I don’t believe it is coincidental. While correlation does not always imply causation, there is a lot of research to support the notion that extensive reading and repeatedly reading leads to expanded vocabulary!
Some readers may recognise these four components as the elements of the Daily CAFE, which I have written about in the past. I support the goals of the Daily Five but will admit that, for me, the CAFE is a much more useful framework for intermediate students. I want all of my students to improve in these areas and fully believe that repeated reading will support the reading skills!