Teaching Reading Through Repetitive Stories

Teaching reading is a complicated process. Children learn to read in many different ways. Many children learn to read by reading the same story over and over again, by memorizing it, and by learning to pick out the words in a story.  All of the stories on this website are appropriate to teach young children to read, and all children will benefit from hearing the stories aloud, from discussing the stories, and from answering questions about the stories. (All of the stories may be printed.)


Young children particularly enjoy stories that have the three R’s—repetition, rhyme and rhythm. Stories that repeat lines, such as the Gilbert the Goat stories on this website, are fun for children. Repetitive stories are particularly easy for children to memorize, especially if they rhyme.  The two stories about Gilbert the Goat have repetitive lines in them which invite young children to join in the story by repeating the line.  Rhyming stories also appeal to children. Rhyming stories develop children’s awareness of sounds, which is a fundamental step to early literacy.  Many rhyming stories also contain rhythm, which allows children to relate to the story in a different way. Rhyming develops children’s sense of language. It also allows children to participate, as they chime in with the rhyme.

How to use the Gilbert the Goat stories:

Read either Gilbert Goes Visiting and Learns to be Respectful or Gilbert the Goat Learns Respect in its entirety. After you have discussed the story, read it again. Invite the children to ‘read’ the repetitive line with you when you come to it in the story, and point to the line as you read it.  Do this over several days, until the children have memorized the story and the line.  Eventually, the children can ‘read’ the story by themselves because they have it memorized. When you point out the words as they ‘read’ or follow along, they will learn to recognize the words individually—all while they are enjoying themselves.

How to use Repetitive Stories:

RecycleI’m a Big Kid. I Can Help, Silly Lilly Remembers her Manners, and Sharing with Friends are rhyming stories which appeal to children’s sense of language. Read each story with the children repeatedly, and they will memorize it. Point to the words as you read each story aloud. Eventually the children will be able to ‘read’ the story by themselves, and point to the words. Repeat the two lines with the rhyme in it, and ask the children which words rhyme, or sound the same. Rhyming is an important reading skill, which teaches children to listen to words and their sounds.

Some tips on developing literacy skills in your child:

Listening and Speaking 

  • Talk to your child. As you go about your daily routine, explain and discuss what you’re doing.   Ask them to tell you about time they spend apart from you.
  • Develop your child’s vocabulary. Explain new words to him or her.
  • Take your child places where he or she can have new experiences. Talk about the experience.


  • Read to your child every day.  This is a special time together.
  • Discuss what you read with your child. Ask what happened first, next, and last.  Ask your child to predict what will happen next in a story.
  • Show your child how to hold a book and turn the pages.
  • Point out the pictures, and discuss them.
  • In online stories and in books, point to the words of the story as you read them.
  • Show your child that reading is important and that you read for pleasure.
  • Point out words that you see around you everyday.
  • When your child is ready (approximately at age 3 or 4), read alphabet books. Teach your child the names of the letters in a fun way, using alphabet magnets or other objects your child can play with. If your child shows no interest, try again in a few weeks.
  • Go to the library and check out books. Encourage your child to pick out books that interest him or her.
  • Limit television and video games.
  • Make books with your child.


  • Encourage your child to use crayons at an early age—this way he or she will learn how to hold a pencil. Don’t expect children to color in the lines.
  • Teach your child to write his or her name when s/he is approximately 4.  Don’t expect perfection and don’t pressure your child to write his or her name—encouragement goes a long way!
  • Praise your child when he or she scribbles—this is an early attempt at writing.
  • Model writing. Point out to children that you write often in your daily life, and point out examples, such as grocery lists, checks, notes to others.
  • Provide a variety of writing instruments and materials for pretend writing.
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