I fell in love with and wrote about this book a long time ago. But it now occurs to me that not only is this a new edition, but that the only person who read my previous writing was my Media for Children and Young Adults professor. Maybe ya’ll might like to hear about it, too.
I should also mention that I won this book from http://www.dearreader.com . I’m lucky in that I get to subscribe to this for work. But really, any of you want to read but find yourself pressed for time, or at the computer more than the library, can use this. You just pick a genre (fiction, sci-fi, business or what have you) and they mail you a five-minute selection from a book five days a week. There’s a new book every Monday, so by the end of the week you’ve read enough to know if you’d be interested in the book or not. Picky reader that I am, I find this a great way to learn about new books without committing a lot of anything.
Reading Magic by Mem Fox Mem Fox is a well-known picture book author as well as one of Australia’s leading literacy experts. In this book, she talks about how reading skills and a love of reading can come about simply and naturally by reading aloud to your children. Just ten minutes a day, she says, and you’ve re-established your family bond after a day apart, or smoothed the tensions of a day together. Her advice is mostly uncontroversial – don’t try to teach your children to read before school. Just read good books to them and have fun with it (she’s got suggestions for games). Having done some more reading about literacy since I last read this, I can see where she has some differences from other literacy theories. She says that phonics is an advanced skill in English, best taught only after children have started reading you back the book you read to them a hundred times. Fox doesn’t agree with children chanting words out of context either (or learning spelling from lists). Language only makes sense in context, and that’s how it should be learned. These are hot-button items in the literacy world, but she’s convincing and hey, if you’re just reading aloud, what does it matter? She also divides literacy up into only three basic skills, where the ALA’s Every Child Ready to Read program uses 6 and recommends 15 minutes of reading a day. Even if your theories are different or your children already reading, this is a great book. Fox is just so infectiously enthusiastic about reading that you’ll finish the book all fired up to find a kid to read to. The new edition even includes a short list of good read-aloud books, though you should refer to the classic and frequently updated Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease for much more extensive recommendations.