Monday, August 18, 2008

And do it like this...

I am a huge fan of Mem Fox, not only as a children's author, but also as a teacher educator. I remember feeling validated and impassioned by Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living (read Mem's thoughts on Radical Reflections here). When Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, came out in 2001, I wasn't surprised to find it just as affirming and inspiring. Mem Fox came to my area on tour for the book and I was lucky enough to attend. She is everything you would hope a read aloud guru would be and more! I was so thankful to have a book by a famous children's author that conveyed, in no uncertain terms, the importance of parents and other adults reading aloud to children from birth on. I emphasize ON because we should never stop reading to our kids, whether our own children or the students we teach. Reading aloud is the single greatest gift we can give them (besides our love and attention) and they are never too old to benefit from and enjoy the experience. I give Reading Magic to every expectant mother as a baby shower gift, along with Koala Lou! However, it should also be required reading for every teacher.

On July 7, an updated and revised version of Reading Magic was released by Harcourt. New chapters on boy readers and phonics and a list of "Twenty Books That Children Love." I love everything about this book, but I particularly love the chapter titled, And Do It Like This (p. 39-52) in which Mem talks about how to read aloud well. And...do I have a treat for you...Mem actually reads this chapter aloud on her website!!! Hearing Mem read aloud a chapter on how to read aloud is brilliant. And there's more. She also reads aloud three of her books: Koala Lou, Sleepy Bears, and Tough Boris. There's nothing like learning how to read aloud by the master. Pure joy!

In The Joy of Children's Literature, I discuss using information from Mem's website with children. It is a plethora of information on herself and each of her books. I especially enjoyed reading Mem's description of the complicated process of writing Green Sheep. Those of us who love picturebooks know their creation is not simple, but Mem's reflection on the process shows us why.

I encourage you to read the updated and revised version of Reading Magic along with all of Mem's children's books and share them with as many people as possible.

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