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Pickle Me This

September 25, 2009

On Mem Fox's Reading Magic

I starting this book thinking it was preaching to the choir. I already knew that reading aloud to my child would point her in positive directions. I’ve long delighted in picture books, we live in a house full of books, and those of us already literate are reading all the time. We also both love reading to Harriet, because she’s a baby, and there’s not much else to do with her (because “Pattycakes” gets old quick, and there’s only so many times you can play “The Grand Old Duke of York” without being spat up on from up at the top of the hill). As Harriet’s library was ready before she was, she’s always been well placed to reap the benefits of books, but since reading Mem Fox’s Reading Magic, I feel more confident than ever. Which, as a parent, is really quite novel.

Of course, we were on the right track already, but it’s always nice to have that underlined. And then to learn even more about how to foster not just literacy, but also a love of books— Fox teaches the benefits of reading aloud from birth (and not just at bedtime!), how to read aloud effectively, how to make games out of books to enhance the opportunities for learning, why having the child read aloud might stifle a love for reading, and also the three secrets of reading: an engagement with print, with language, and with the world. I also liked her list of twenty books children will love, which is available on her website.

I came away from this book so absolutely inspired, and excited by the opportunity to have a positive effect on my daughter’s life (and on our relationship– Fox mentions the together time of reading, and cuddling together it requires, which is so important to young kids). It also underlined a hunch I’ve had about being a parent for a while– that however much we fret and feel guilty and unsure, the most essential things that children require are those we give them without even trying.

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