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Repeating Favorite Reads

"Make Way for Ducklings?" you ask hopefully.

"Thomas," your 4-year-old commands.

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar?" you say.


Sick of pulling out the same book each night? A little  -- okay, a lot of  -- repetition is par for the course. Children take comfort in the familiar: the way you always growl a certain line in their favorite story, or knowing what they'll see when you turn the page. And hearing the same story again and again helps kids learn. "You're reading a complex language at an adult's pace, so they might need repeated readings to sort out what you're saying," says Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook.

But all those encores can wear on your nerves, and the less excited you are about reading to your child, the less enthusiastic he'll be, too. To stay psyched:

Switch up reading time. Beloved bedtime books can be hard to phase out, since tired children aren't often open to new ideas. So try breaking out a new title just after he wakes up, or after work and daycare.

Read more. Some parents (understandably) stop after one book at night. But if you read two or three, you can introduce a new option to save your sanity.

Try a new sales pitch. If there's a childhood story you loved, go for it. Talk it up: "I'll do Thomas, and then I'll read you a new book about a crazy family of ducks!" Your fondness may spark theirs.