Saturday, February 6, 2010


I went to a great presentation on the power of rereading given by Tom Liam Lynch at NCTE this past fall. I am now in the midst of a rereading autobiography project with my freshmen. They and I all chose favorites to reread -- I gave them just about a month to do the rereading while we were studying poetry in class. Now they are writing their first drafts of their rereading autobiographies based on the essays in Rereadings edited by Anne Fadiman. This project has been good for a few reasons:
  • We are trying to incorporate more free choice reading in our 6-12 curriculum overall, and this is a different way to do so. We like to offer variety in the singular threads (free choice reading, portfolios) that move from 6th to 12th grades so students stay engaged.
  • The majority of the students, when I polled them after they had read their books, said they loved rereading and I should definitely have next year's freshmen reread, and some even thanked me for giving the assignment because it helped them remember why they liked to read (that is success enough alone!).
  • A very small number of students said they did not think I should do this project again because they do not like rereading. I was very intrigued by this because I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not like to reread. Yes, there are books I will never reread, but I have never disliked it period. These students, as freshmen, have a strong opinion that they just do not reread. I have asked them to explore this in their autobiographies, and I am intrigued to learn more about what is behind this.
  • A few students, who liked the idea of rereading, said that they picked books that were too recent -- they remembered everything about them so the rereading was arduous rather than fun. This is great feedback for me to help guide future classes in their choices should I do this project again
I hope their autobiographies turn out as thoughtful as I think they will be based on the brainstorming discussion we have had. That will be the true test of this whole project!


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I am one who does not reread (unless to prepare to teach again), and I am always fascinated that some of my students choose to reread rather than choose a new book. At first I saw it as an easy way out. This has given me a different perspective.

  2. Hi Susanne,
    I was so excited to see that you adapted the Rereadings study with your own students. If you think there's anything we can add to the Rereadings web site for other teachers, please do let me know.

    Again, congratulations!