Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reading Magic by Mem Fox

Reading Magic by Mem Fox

I just finished reading Mem Fox’s excellent book Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.  It is a short, quick read full of wonderful tips and ideas about reading aloud to your children. Here were a few of my favorites:

1.  If you want your kids to love books, show them you love books.
2.    How can you expect your reluctant reader to read if you do not or if you show no enthusiasm for reading?
3.    Dads—read aloud to your kids!
4.    When your child is reading aloud don’t make them sound out every word, just tell them the word and move on with the story. 
5.    Don’t stop reading aloud even when your children can read themselves.

When trying to encourage your child to read it seems only natural to stop and have them sound out a challenging word they don’t know -- thus teaching them the word.  Fox suggests telling them the word to keep the story flowing smoothly along and chances are they will remember the word the next time they see it. This will keep the child’s interest and eliminate boredom and frustration for both child and parent. After reading this idea I tried it out on my daughter and I was amazed at how beautifully it worked.  When reading a wonderful story aloud who wants to be bogged down by the tedious sounding out of words?

My husband can read Spider-Man comics like no one else, well pretty much because I refuse and our son loves them.  He does all the voices for Spidey, the villans, and the POW, ZZBBPPT, and WABTTT.  I’m not saying he loves reading them, but he knows that S loves them so reads with enthusiasm.  (He also reads Strawberry Shortcakes Berry Wonderful Day with enthusiasm.) Fox states in her book that having both Mom and Dad read aloud can make a huge difference in a child’s desire to read. 

Fox stresses the importance of continuing to read aloud to your children even after they can read themselves. You can always read them more challenging books or books they would never pick up on their own. I will always remember my dad reading us Poe’s The Raven, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn when I was seven or eight.  I plan to read aloud to my children until they leave the house--if they let me.

How to get started:

The Read Aloud Handbook: Jim Trelease (6th edition)—this book and others by Trelease are the perfect place to find some books to get started.  http://www.librarything.com/work/96385/book/70237569

Reading Together: Everything you Need to Know to Raise a Child who Loves to Read by Diane W Frankenstein. http://www.librarything.com/work/9308641/book/70237594

What do you love to read aloud to your child?  What do you remember being read aloud as a child?


  1. I loved having dad read to me. I'll never forget the point in Tom Sawyer when he was laughing so hard he was crying and couldn't keep reading while I was desperate to know what happened next.

    Poe was also one of my favorites, read with dad's melodramatic voices.

  2. My mom read aloud to us, and still does to my siblings nearly every evening. She is wonderful at giving the characters in books accents, and their own voices. Even the 'Olde English' that a lot of the classics are written in doesn't faze her. Micah loves books, and I try to read to him every day. It's a lot harder with two younger ones that aren't quite ready to sit still that long though!