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How many books is 'enough'?


"One more time?" says Truman as we finish his latest book crush. This came in the "red bag" from school, part of a Multnomah County program to make sure underprivileged kids have books in the home.

Seriously? One more time? I thought. Even though I loved the book, I had things to do! But part of the whole reason I quit my job and am doing a few hours' daily freelance work is so I could do this, read it ah-gain. I read it again, expressively, and closed it decisively. "All done!" I said happily.

"One more time?" says Truman. "Read it ah-gain?" And this time I say, "no, two times is enough!" and head to the kitchen to finish the dishes. But I have to wonder: how many times is enough? Last night while Monroe was sleeping on my lap I read Inch by Inch four times in a row (and then it was requested again at bedtime). Later I listen to him, sitting studiously on the couch, "reading" it to himself. Be still my heart.

So repetition is good, I know from my sisters' early childhood development classes. But how much can I stand? How about you? When do you call it quits on "one more time"?


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I've made it a (soft-ish) policy that I never turn down my daughter's requests to read to her. Even when I have to race out the door for work, I will make 5 minutes to read her a book (and if she wants it read again, her caregiver takes over). Even when I have to read something 6 times in a row, I try very hard to oblige. I might be a little over the top, but I love books so very much, it's a huge priority for me. But, to answer your actual question -- if I feel my mind going numb from too many repeats, I'll draw things to a close, either by transitioning her to another activity or at least changing things around, like talking about the pictures or having a conversation about the story instead of reading it yet again. The most repeats she'll ask for is probably around 6 or 7, depending on the book (longer ones cap out at 3 to 4 times, it seems). Of course, I should qualify this by saying that I only have one child, versus three! I'm sure your time is very split ... it's all about what we have to cram into the day, I know.

Our house rule is 3 times in a row. Then we have to read something else before we come back to the original first book.

Ok, this will make me seem like a slacker-mom, but, I have a "once a day rule" meaning I only read each book once each day. They are however always free to pick another book, that I will happily read, or they can get Daddy or grandma to read the book to them again.

My reply to "can we read it again?" is usually a cheerful "I'm sure daddy would love to read it to you when he gets home!" I'm home with my kids all day - somethings I just have to do for my own sanity!

We seriously have over 100 children s books in our home, plus a weekly trip to the Library for fresh choices. So reading is not at all limited by this policy.

So when do I get to look forward to "one more time?"!?!?! My little 2.25 year old doesn't request 'one more time/again' but she will bring twenty books to bed if I let her.

Don't worry pdxmomto2, I'm with you! I don't have it on a once a day rule, but at least it's only "once at a time." Usually. Every now and then they convince me otherwise. I have to say it does drive me nuts that we go to the library frequently so there's always something fresh to read and yet we can go days in a row with the same. old. book. every. night. Ugh. Now though, I can tell the 4 year old to "read" to the 2 year old, and he does. Gotta love that!

I try really hard to honor every request to read during the day (bedtime he gets 5 books or else he would delay sleep as long as he could) because I want him to love reading the way I do. Also, I know from my teacher mom that repetition is so important for kids in terms of learning language. But there are books that I HATE.....busy town being at the top of that list. And I do try to interest him in other books when we get on a busy town kick. Also, at bedtime I cut off requests because

When my child was 12-24 months she wanted certain books read over and over again. I did indulge her. I did whatever I could to keep her occupied and from tearing apart the house!

The great thing is that by the time she was two she would sit on a little chair in front of the mirror and "read" to herself. (She'd memorized many books.) It was just so precious!

She also showed great interest in the letters and learned all of them by age 2.

When she hit 3 she stopped asking to read the same book over and over in the same sitting. Instead she would ask for another book and get really into each story.

I hate to admit this, but I spend so much less time reading to her now than when she was younger (she's almost 4). I used to read to her for two solid hours each day - for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. Now it's more like 30 minutes a day. She can "occupy" herself and it's just so easy to shoo her away if I have housework to do. I was feeling guilty about this the other day and told my husband that we have to go back to reading to her more often...

1, 10, 3, 7... whatever they want! With the middles (middle kids), we usually read for about 30 minutes in the late morning and 30 minutes before bed. If they want to read the same book for 30 minutes, that's fine. We can always point out different things with another read through. Have them look for all the circles. Or all the A's. Or anything that's red. Try singing the whole book. Try reading it in a funny voice or accent. Leave words out and have them fill in the blank. You can actually add a lot of variety with each reading.

With the oldest, we're doing the long haul through ALL of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. We're on the 5th of 9! So not much repetition there. Our kids are 5, 3, 2, and 1, by the way. :)

Love KE's advice on re-reading with variety! So far, we haven't had requests from our 2.5-year-old to read the same book over too many times in one sitting, but our trips to the library have become much more frequent just to get some new titles into the rotation.

This is a timely post. I read "Big Red Barn" to my 18-month-old five times in a row yesterday. But he hadn't picked up that book by himself in about 4 months, so I didn't mind too much.

Sometimes I re-read the books again and make up my own stories to go with the pictures. But I realize that before too long my son won't let me get away with that!

We're more of "another" family, rather than "again." Which is fine by me, some of these books (ie. "A Fish Out of Water") drive me insane.

DH reads with our 6 y/o--they do comics, usually, and fits and starts of Harry Potter. They seem to read something different every night.

I read with our 4 y/o--two Star Wars stories every night, then one "short story" ("short story" meaning anything not Star Wars). We do tend to go through periods of the same 3 stories every night for weeks at a time though. I will sometimes try to push for a new book, but ultimately, kiddo gets to pick.

I will basically read it as many times as they want as well, but if I get tired of it I can usually also suggest another book with success so it's not such a big deal around here. We've acquired a ton of new books lately and I love them all, so I basically will read whatever they bring to me, whenever they ask for it. And I agree with previous posters that there are many variations on the same book if you need to get creative. My 15 month old is loving a few books that we own that are just pictures of real life animals, people and transportation and I re "read" the animal book to him like 5 times last night. First we made all the animal sounds, then we made the sign for each animal, then we talked about what we "get" from each animal--milk from cows, eggs from chickens, etc. By the 4th or 5th times I was getting pretty bored though!

We read almost as much as she wants. Lots of times I'll go through the book but tell my own story that goes with the pictures instead of reading the actual text. I'll also complete only part of a sentence so she can finish it with her own words.

I thought, from the title, that this post was going to be about how many physical books one should have in the house, not how many times to read a particular book. Anyhow...

We are past that stage, thank goodness, but from what I understand that repetition is a really important part of language development, so it is good to encourage them, as long as you as a parent aren't going crazy from it. I certainly hid a few books over the years from my kids, when I just couldn't stand them anymore. Reading in funny voices, or changing some of the words was always a way to make a book more entertaining for everyone, like always saying cat instead of pig in the three little pigs. That gets great laughter, when the kids are old enough to understand that humor, of course.

Liz: re: the post title--I thought the same thing, and my answer would have been as many as you can fit in the house.

egl, what Star Wars stories do you read to your 4 year old? I think my 4 yo would like them, too!

Read it to them as many times as they want. Have fun reading- I love the suggestion of singing the story. Also if you really can't stand reading it again, suggest that you make up a story together. We do a lot of reading, but at night time I usually make up stories so that we can relax with no reading lights on etc. Guess what, my child asks for me to tell the same stories that I have made up over and over! Anyway, cherish these precious moments- they will be gone soon.


Dark Horse comics (which is actually a local comic house, based in Milwaukie) has a series of Star Wars comics based on the Clone Wars years (ie., about 20 years before Luke and Leia, when Anakin was still a Jedi).

The series is called Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures, and there are 10 volumes in the series. Each volume has 3 or 4 stories in them, and the stories focus on different characters (which is cool, as you're not always reading about Obi-Wan or whatever).

The stories are mostly age-appropriate for my guy. I'm guessing if your kiddo knows Star Wars you'll be cool with it. Things get blown up, there are lightsaber fights, but the real action tends to just be alluded to (which my son has not really realized yet). I guess you can call them not-so-graphic graphic novels.

We bought ours at Bridge City Comics over on Mississippi. Michael, the owner, is wonderful--he even ordered some volumes he didn't have on hand, so we could complete our collection. They actually have a decent selection of comics/books geared to the younger set (there are Spider-man books similar to the Star Wars volumes, etc.), and they can steer you in the right direction. I would also like to point out, they do carry comics that are a little more "girl-friendly" (if I can say that without setting off any gender wars).

So yeah, that's a long post about comics. We are a very comic-oriented family (DH and oldest DS are at a comic convention right now). Some people look down on comics. My theory has always been, if it gets a kid reading, how bad can it be?

About a week in to the school year, my oldest son's teacher pulled me aside. I was all, "Oh, man, what did he do?" But she wanted to tell me that when they send home homework working on sentences, she would like my son to work on composing paragraphs instead (he's 6). She was amazed at his reading/writing skills and wanted to know what we read at home. I told her he was mostly into comics, and she kinda made a face. I let it slide, but I was thinking, you know, here is a kid who is reading and writing above grade level, due to his interest in comics, how can we now disparage comics when they were so integral to developing his skills?

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