Title: Reading Magic
Author: Mem Fox
Major Themes: Reading, Books, Teaching, Homeschooling
Synopsis: This interesting book describes many benefits of reading aloud to children and what happens when a child is read to frequently.
I was listening to a podcast one day about reading aloud, and the person being interviewed was Mem Fox. She talked about her book Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, and I found myself quite interested in reading it. A few days later, I saw this book advertised for sale on a local Facebook group, and bought it. What an interesting read!
Mem Fox tells about her experiences reading picture books with little children. Her daughter started reading only a couple of weeks after she started school. The reason? She had been read to, over and over, since birth. Interactions with books and words, in a setting of loving, fun interaction with her parents, made reading seem like a fun, natural thing to do.
Mem’s book is full of stories of other children who learned to read quickly and easily, after being read to all their lives. She also talks about children she came across who had not been read to. In a number of chapters, she talks about how to read aloud, how to do voices when reading dialogue, and how to vary the pitch or speed of your voice to match the story. She talks about interaction with a story and a child, and how important that is in helping children learn to communicate and become excited about books and reading.
This author believes that one of the most important factors in children learning to read is that they are confident. A child who hears the same story read over and over and over will be so familiar with it that he will naturally start associating the words he hears with the words on the paper. Because he has memorized the story, it will be easy for him to read it. Children who do not experience failure will have a much easier time learning to read.
What I got out of Reading Magic was the importance of reading aloud to little children! I need to make more time in my days to read picture books to my little ones. They sure love being read to. My toddler brought me a little book about firefighters while I was writing the first paragraph of this review. I read it to her, then started writing. She requested it again. While I wrote that paragraph, I read the book to her seven times! According to Mem Fox, this kind of rereading is some of the best preparation for reading that there is. This book is very interesting and easy to read. I recommend it to all parents—but keep in mind when you read it that, just because you read aloud every day, it doesn’t guarantee that your children will learn to read easily. When my oldest three were little, I faithfully read picture books to them every day. Two of the three had major struggles learning to read. They love to listen to books, but the mechanics of reading proved to be very difficult. On the other hand, my now-6-year-old daughter, much farther down the line of children, has learned to read quite easily, and I didn’t spend much time reading picture books to her (she just had to listen to the chapter books for all ages that I read to the older ones!).