read aloud · RESEARCH

Read Aloud Commandments from Mem Fox

Earlier this afternoon my daughter picked through books in one of her bedroom book baskets.  She paged through them on her own in an effort to read independently.

I’ve been spending a lot of time away from my computer due to some issues I’ve been having with my wrists and hands when I type.  Alas, I had to work on an author study PowerPoint today, for the graduate course I’m teaching next month, which means I’m back on the computer.  Therefore, I figured I’d take a few minutes to blog about something interesting I came across as I was preparing a segment of my lecture on Mem Fox.

My students will be reading Carol Gilles’ Talking about Books “Mem’s the word”: Examining the Writing of Mem Fox (2000) prior to a class discussion on Mem Fox as a writer and as a mentor author for children.  As I was preparing the Mem Fox part of the lecture, I was on her website and came across her Ten Read-Aloud Commandments.  It’s a FANTASTIC list that everyone who reads to children should examine closely.  Here are three highlights that resonated with me as a mom (rather than as an educator):

MEM SAYS:  Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read.

I THINK:  This is spot-on advice.  If you commit to reading three stories a day to your child, starting tomorrow, then it will take you less than a year (333 days) to share 1,000 stories with your child.

MEM SAYS:  Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, or flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot.

I THINK:  Even as an adult, there’s nothing worse than listening to a dull read aloud.  Whenever a reader’s voice goes flat, I loose interest almost immediately.

To that end, I remember watching “Three Men and a Baby” back in the 80’s.  Peter, played by Tom Selleck, was reading Mary an issue of Sports Illustrated aloud.  One of his roommates questioned why he was reading a baby a sports magazine.  He said, “It’s the tone of your voice that matters, because she doesn’t understand the words anyway.”  As babies grow into toddlers who do understand what’s being said an animated read aloud matters!

MEM SAYS: Please read aloud every day, mums and dads, because you just love being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.

I THINK:  How true this is!  I would hope all parents know they should read aloud to their kids daily.  However, transmitting a love of reading to one’s child is different than going through the motions and reading a book to a child at bedtime.  In order to make read aloud time fun at home, it’s so important to find books that YOU love, as an adult, to make this time work for you as well as for your child.

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4 thoughts on “Read Aloud Commandments from Mem Fox

  1. I love Mem Fox and her absolutely-spot-on list! Enjoy the time she needs you to read to her, enjoy her and the books you read. The time goes so quickly before they magically seem to learn how to sound out the words and read for themselves. The good news is that if you’ve always read together, that time is just as important to your child as it is to you – and they will still want to read with you even if they can read it for themselves. 🙂

  2. Oh! I just discovered that you have another blog. It is so wonderful!

    …Yesterday my writer’s workshop was filmed by our district literacy mentors to be shared with other teachers…When they were interviewing me, they asked where I get most of my ideas…and I quickly referred to the Two Writing Teachers…

    Thank you.

    1. @Loralee: Aw, thanks for your kind words about TWT. I’m glad it’s been so useful to you.
      Yes, I started this blog a few months ago, but haven’t done that much writing on it. Once I hit 20-25 posts, I’ll plan on “announcing” it over at TWT.
      I hope to see you back here as well as on TWT.

      1. TWT is one of my home pages! I read it regularly and tell others about it…often!

        Thank you for taking the time to share with other teachers. You and Ruth Ayres are a blessing.

        I will definitely keep reading here as well!

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