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The biggest thing that will help children learn to read or even be excited about reading is reading to them from day one. One of Fox’s friends started reading to his daughter at six days old! She provides many examples about people who read to their children within a few months of them being born and at a very young age they are reading words off of buses, signs, cereal boxes and they are getting excited when they know it’s time to read a book again at night.
The two other most important things are consistency and engagement. Reading aloud to children has to be consistent, there can be no excuses because those excuses are much smaller than the effect of not reading. Next, engagement. It will not work to sit there and simply read the book without eye contact in a monotone voice. As a parent, you need to exaggerate words, emphasize them when needed, ask questions, raise and lower your voice and make it a game for the child.
The book discusses her three secrets of reading they are: the magic of print, the magic of language and the magic of general knowledge. The first one, the magic of print is all about the child being able to look at print and understanding that is conveys a message and means something. The magic of language is knowing that to be able to read a language, we have to understand it. Finally, the magic of general knowledge is everything we have learned in our life from the moment we were born.
We can learn so much from reading books, including how our language works. When the three of these “magics” combine, reading is the result.
This book is perfectly titled, I really felt like I was learning magic tricks from Mem Fox. This book is all about the secrets of reading to children and how it will truly change their life. I never realized that reading to kids, literally from the day they are born, will be a huge factor in them learning how to and succeeding at reading. I love that Mem Fox gives so many personal stories from both her children and her friend’s children and many other encounters she’s had where reading to these kids helped them to learn to read.
My favorite part is where she is describing her read aloud session and how she always took a little longer than all the other teachers. This is because she reads the ending so slow to give the children a “delicious” experience and in my head, I can picture her doing all this. With the vocabulary she uses it is more than obvious to me that she loves what she does and puts so much effort into making sure these children have an amazing experience with her. It is really easy to see how excited she gets every time someone gives her an update about how their child is doing with their books and how much they love read aloud time and I think its great how involved she is.
Overall, I think this book was incredibly well written and her enthusiasm and love for reading can be felt on every page. I definitely learned a lot about how important it is to read to children, even at six days old. Reading aloud to children so early in their life will give them a love for reading and the time they get to spend with their parent while doing so. I was convinced very early on in the book to read to my future children and any young children I end up teaching because this is such a vital thing in their life. It amazes me that I was shocked still after every example Fox gave about how reading to young children produced results. This just goes to show that reading aloud does not favor any specific child, environment, age or gender and can significantly and consistently show results on reading improvement.
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