(Oops...this somehow didn't post yesterday, so I'm posting it now, on...er, uh, Speechy Monday. I know you'll forgive me.)
I remember when Flannery was tiny, she always wanted us to read the same book to her every night. The one about the dogs.
And so, we read it. And read it. And read it. And pieces of it got torn. And we taped them on. And they got torn again. So we bought another copy. And then another copy. I'm pretty sure we bought 3 copies by the time she was 2. And every time we read that dog book, she was just so happy.
I remember at the time, that there were nights when I'd secretly want to hide the dog book. I wanted to read some beautiful rhyming book like "Moon Song," or something with gorgeous illustrations like "On the Night you were Born."
But what kept me from hiding the dog book, is that I knew the research on sharing books with infants and toddlers. Favorite books are a learning device. Reading the same book repeatedly to a child helps the child develop strong and secure understandings of the vocabulary in that book. Instead of learning a little about a lot of books, Flannery--by asking us over and over to read the same book to her every night--was learning a lot about one book. She was learning (in great depth!) about all the things that dogs do, the different types of dogs, sounds dogs make, types of fur dogs have, etc.
And if I had hidden her beloved dog book, if I had insisted on novelty--a new book every night--then she would've missed out on forming those lovely deep and strong connections to the vocabulary in her favorite book. She wouldn't have had umpteen experiences pretending to "howl," or "scratch," or "shake" to dry off after a bath. She wouldn't have had a gazillion chances to pet the "fluffy" dog or to scrunch up her nose when the author pointed out that "all dogs poop." Maybe she wouldn't have realized so quickly that cats and dogs are usually "enemies," by lifting the flap a zillion times to discover a cat high up in a tree trying to "escape" from the dogs.
So, there you go. You have my permission--as a speech language pathologist, birth to three specialist, language & literacy coach to early childhood teachers, and also just a regular mom--to read your child's favorite book to them as many times as they ask. To think of it as "building depth of knowledge" for your child. To stop feeling guilty that you're not exposing them to something new and different and educational every night.
Because, really? The best education your child will ever get? Is when a caring adult sets aside his or her own agenda, follows your child's interests, and settles in to read their beloved "dog book" the fifteen hundredth time they ask.
What book did you just love to read over and over again as a child?