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Ready. Set. Repeat. Using Repetitive Text for Reading, Writing and Learning

by Amy O'Quinn


A new fall favorite in our home is How To Make An Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. My boys have asked me to read it at least once a day, so I took a moment to figure out why it appeals to them so much. Besides the fact that the story is fun and quite humorous, I discovered they like the repetitive nature of the text. They also enjoy learning about new places and geography as we read along.


The girl in the story wants to make an apple pie, but the market is closed. Therefore, she sets off on a journey around the world to gather the freshest ingredients available. She gets semolina wheat in Italy, a chicken (for eggs) in France, a cow in England (for milk/butter), cinnamon bark in Sri Lanka, sugar cane in Jamaica, apples from Vermont, etc.


Types of Repetitive Text
Books with a repetitive twist are very popular. Think of authors such as Eric Carle, Margaret Wise Brown, Laura Numeroff, Verla Kay, and of course, Dr. Seuss. Additionally, there are different forms of repetition, including similar vowel or consonant sounds, words, phrases, sentences, etc. or a certain expression that is systematically repeated by one of the characters.


However, repetition can also act as a prediction catalyst based on the text pattern the author has chosen to use. In the case of How To Make An Apple Pie and See the World, students know that each part of the story will center upon where the freshest ingredients for apple pie recipe will be found.


Why Teachers Use Books With Repetitive Text

Teachers like to use picture books that feature repetitive text for many reasons, including:

They are fun to read and hear!
They are perfect for teaching/learning high frequency words.
Repetitive type books encourage the reader/listener to anticipate what is coming and interact with the story by making predictions.
Students can use the book as a model to create their own stories.


Repetitive Text and Common Core Standards:

Teachers (and writers) are discovering they can use (or write) books with repetitive text to satisfy several common core standards. For example:

(Kindergarten) CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3c Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).
(First Grade) CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.6 With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers. (Perhaps using the book with repetitive text as a model).
(Second grade) CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.4 Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.
(Third Grade) CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.


Writers, It Bears Repeating!

We all know from our own reading experiences that repetitive stories (in one form or another) are engaging. So why not try to come up with an idea that incorporates repetition—sounds, words, phrases, expressions, or events?


Plus, teachers like to use these types of books and stories in the classroom, especially since they can help satisfy quite a few of the common core standards. And children love repetition, making predictions, and the familiar cadence of language.


It’s a win-win situation for teachers, students, AND writers.

Ready. Set. Repeat!


Another great autumn selection with a repetitive twist is The Apple Pie That Papa Baked  by Lauren Thompson.





*Article originally appeared on The Work Writer's Club website HERE.





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