Friday, May 10, 2013

Why Reading Really is Magic

Why Reading Really is Magic

Reading is magical because it brings parents and children together for fun, bonding and giggles. It also helps promote a children’s brain, social and language development. Reading aloud to young children, before they reach school age, is especially important to foster a love of books and reading. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Children learn language from books and reading aloud, more so than learning the alphabet or letter/sound relationships.

It is my firm belief that, if kids know six nursery rhymes by the time they are four, they are more likely to be in the top reading group at school by age eight. It is also part of the reason I decided to write my latest children’s book, Good Night, Sleep Tight. The book revives seven classic nursery rhymes for new generations. Nursery rhymes and books with a lot of rhyme, rhythm and repetition, help children remember and learn language patterns quicker and more easily. Use the same lively ‘tune’ every time you read to your child. Children become familiar with books and will better remember the story through this practice.

To make reading ‘magical’, choose short books that can be read three times in ten minutes. These books should have lots of colour and pictures to stimulate your child’s imagination. Playing games with the book, such as letting children finish the rhymes and finding the letters that start with your child’s name and yours helps them focus on the things on the page.

Always make reading books to your children the last thing you do before their bedtime to help them relax at the end of the day. Having said that, reading can happen nicely at any time of the day, particularly when children are tired or fractious: it’s a calming thing to do, and very loving. But it’s not just about your reading; your presence is what’s most important to a child.

BIO: Mem Fox has written over 40 books for children among which are the perennial favourites: Possum Magic, Time for Bed and Where Is The Green Sheep?; and several books for adults also, including her best selling book for parents: Reading Magic: how your child can learn to read before school and other read aloud miracles. Her books have been translated into 19 languages.

Mem Fox was an Associate Professor of Education at Flinders University in Adelaide where she taught teachers for 24 years until her early retirement in 1996. She has received many honors and awards from various Australian governments and other organisations for services to literature, as well as three honorary doctorates for her work in literacy. She has visited the USA over 100 times as both a consultant in literacy and as an author. She keeps threatening to retire but never quite gets around to it as she is always finding something new to write about or shout about.

***Read my recent review of Mem Fox's latest children's picture book, Good Night, Sleep Tight.

9 comments:

  1. Another great blog, Book Chook...
    Just had to share on FB and Twitter. Keep the interesting and informative blogs coming.
    Coral

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another great blog, Book Chook...
    Just had to share on FB and Twitter. Keep the interesting and informative blogs coming.
    Coral

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just shared on twitter. Great post.
    Cool Mom (Christine M.)
    for Stanley & Katrina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Christine, Stanley and Katrina!

      Delete
  4. I'll always be troubled by her hyperbolic theme, "Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read." If we can teach a chimpanzee, gorilla and dolphin to read simple sentences, why and how does Fox establish the 1000 story threshold for BEGINNING to learn to read.

    And why is she so fond of the word, "magical"? There's nothing magical about reading - it's actually quite scientific in that we can recognize patterns and predictable outcomes based on reading aptitude, achievement, disabilities and interventions. But despite her orientation to or foundation in drama, I like Mem Fox simply because of the "challenged" status of "Guess What?".

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Jim. I can't speak for Mem Fox, but for myself that "thousand" is less hyperbole and more a significantly large number that explains to parents how necessary regular reading from when kids are tiny is. Again for me, the magic in reading is those aspects of it that are not as readily measurable by scientific instruments. I suspect they may be aspects not available to apes and dolphins either. Magical to me is the way reading can pull us into someone else's life, offer us the chance to walk a mile in their shoes, teach us empathy and compassion. Magical too is the way reading helps us dream, from daydreams and fantasies to life goals.

      I am not a scientist, but I have seen children who have been read to all their young lives start reading without any formal instruction in phonics and the like. Their imaginations are well-developed and much of their imaginative play is literature-based. If not magical, at the very least it's exciting and wonderful!

      Thanks for mentioning Guess What. I don't know it but would very much like to read it.

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  5. Wonderful, wonderful piece!! Sharing this my readers on FB and Twitter right now!

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