Why Reading Really is Magic
by Mem Fox
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.