Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever

Paperback(Second Edition, Updated and Revised)

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The must-have guide to reading with children, now in a new and revised edition


Best-selling children's author and internationally respected literacy expert Mem Fox reveals the incredible emotional and intellectual impact reading aloud to children has on their ability to learn to read. With passion and humor, Fox speaks of when, where, and why to read aloud and demonstrates how to read aloud to best effect and get the most out of a read-aloud session. She discusses the three secrets of reading, offers guidance on defining and choosing good books, and—for this new edition—includes two new chapters on boy readers and phonics, a foreword, and a list of "Twenty Books That Children Love." Filled with practical advice, activities, and inspiring true read-aloud miracles, this book is a turn-to classic for educators and parents.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156035101
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 07/07/2008
Edition description: Second Edition, Updated and Revised
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 99,148
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

MEM FOX is the author of many acclaimed books, including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Possum Magic, Koala Lou, Time for Bed, and, for adults, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. She lives in Adelaide, Australia.

JUDY HORACEK is the creator of the cartoons in Mem Fox's Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. She also writes and illustrates books of her own and creates cartoons that are featured regularly in national magazines and newspapers in Australia. She lives in Dickson, Australia.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Foot Book Miracle

In 1975 our daughter, Chloë, came home from school in a state of excitement and said, "I can read!" She was four years old and had been at school for two weeks. We smiled indulgently as parents do when they think their child is cute. Read? She had to be joking.

She ran to her room and came back with The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss, one of her favorites at the time, and read it to us word for word, with expression. We were beside ourselves.

But could she really read? We had read that book to her so many times, we thought she might have memorized it. We hesitated, not wanting to dampen her wild enthusiasm, then bravely opened the book at random to see if she could read a page by itself, without reciting the whole book by rote from the beginning. She read that page, and another page at random, and another.

At the time, I was a college professor teaching drama. I knew nothing about the teaching of reading. In my eyes I was "only" a mother. I rushed to Chloë’s school the next morning and told her teacher what had happened.

"What did you do?" I asked, agog. "What method did you use? It’s a miracle!"

"I didn’t do much," she said. "How could I? She’s only been in my class for two weeks. You must have read to her often before she came to school."

"Of course," I said.

"Well, there you go," said the teacher, as if that were that.

From that moment I became fascinated by the benefits of reading aloud. The seeds were sown for a change in my teaching career—out of drama into literacy. If reading aloud had had such a powerful impact on my child’s life and on her ability to learn to read, I felt I had no business keeping it a secret. I had to spread the word.

Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve learned a great deal more about how children learn to read and write and about the many other positive effects of reading aloud to children. I now travel the world, talking to parents, teachers, librarians, and booksellers, urging everyone I meet to read aloud to the children in their lives—and explaining why. I speak with the authority of an international literacy consultant and the intensity of a writer, but I’m most passionate when I speak as an ordinary mother. Reading aloud to my daughter was a fabulous experience. We bonded through all sorts of marvelous books. We came to know and love each other better through the variety of stories we shared. I hadn’t realized that reading aloud regularly would mean Chloë would learn to read without being taught.

It was enough just to be together.

Text copyright © Mem Fox 2008, 2001

Illustrations copyright © Judy Horacek 2001

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Table of Contents


Foreword xi

Chapter One
The Foot Book Miracle 1

Chapter Two
The Magic in Action 5

Chapter Three
Birth, Brains, and Beyond 13

Chapter Four
The Power 25

Chapter Five
Keep It Regular 31

Chapter Six
And Do It Like This 39

Chapter Seven
Getting the Most Out of It 53

Chapter Eight
The Proof 75

Chapter Nine
The First Secret of Reading:
The Magic of Print 79

Chapter Ten
The Second Secret of Reading:
The Magic of Language 87

Chapter Eleven
The Third Secret of Reading:
The Magic of General Knowledge 103

Chapter Twelve
What Happens When the Three Secrets
of Reading Come Together? 109

Chapter Thirteen
"Book! Book! Book!" 125

Chapter Fourteen
Television: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 143

Chapter Fifteen
Troubleshooting 149

Chapter Sixteen
Phokissing on Fonix 157

Chapter Seventeen
Boys and Reading 173

Twenty Books That Children Love 191

Acknowledgments 193

Customer Reviews

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Reading Magic 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mem Fox Knows Her Stuff! Her children's books including Whoever You Are, Koala Lou and Tough Boris are memorable and lovable, but in Reading Magic Mem speaks to parents or adults who are around children age 0-7. Mem's main goal is to encourage adults to read aloud to young children as it is enjoyable and has life-long positive results on the child being read to. She advises that it's never too early to read to your child 'or baby'! The book describes how to go about reading aloud to children, secrets of reading, television vs. reading, a little on phonics and includes a book list of read-aloud's for young ones. Reading Magic is an easy read and is void of educational jargon and acronyms. I've already recommended this book to an expecting family member and my dentist with a newborn!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Mem Fox¿s book, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, Fox outlines why reading aloud to kids positively impacts many important aspects of their lives. This book will inspire teachers and parents to adopt read aloud as a daily routine. Fox provides anecdotes that support why reading aloud is perhaps the most important step an adult mentor can make to support a child¿s success in school and in a pursuit of lifelong learning. As an avid reader and passionate literacy educator, I was deeply moved as to the many reasons Fox gives as to why adults should read to children. Chapters of special interest to me were Birth, Brains and Beyond and Boys and Reading. Each of these chapters shaped my new thinking as to the importance of reading aloud to our children from infancy through later childhood years. Fox¿s stories and humor make the book an easy and fun read. I would recommend this book to all teachers, parents, and soon to be parents. You current ideas about read aloud will be transformed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mem Fox has done a wonderful job of helping the reader understand the importance of reading aloud. She describes the act of reading aloud to children as one of the best ways to help children with their academic reading success later in life. She makes a good point for how reading aloud can foster good relationships with families and caregivers. Fox gives the reader insight into how to make the read aloud a wonderful time to share with children. She also gives ways to enhance family relationships through reading, and easy ways to supplement reading at school. She has many good ideas about literature and which books are the best to use in a read-aloud. The two new chapters in the revised edition are helpful to parents and teachers alike. Fox gives her opinion on some education issues that are thought-provoking and insightful. I would recommend reading this book if you are a first-time parent, or a parent looking for ways to help your student in school. It was an enjoyable book as an educator and helped me focus on some areas in my classroom that need help. This is an easy read, written with humor and funny illustrations. I highly recommend this book for anyone and everyone who has any contact with young learners.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just wanted to say that I found this an amazing book, full of anecdotes and stories, not to mention tips and proof of the importance of reading to children. I actually used this book as a resource for my Senior Project, and have found it both useful and informative. I especially enjoyed hearing her views on the importance of fairy tales and the like. All in all, I definitely suggest this book to anyone wondering if it's really worth the time it takes to read to your children.
asomers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very repetitive. Would be more effective as an essay not a full length book.
butterflybaby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Insightful book with good advice. Mem Fox has wonderful suggestions and information on reading aloud to children. She really changes reading. Reading was never meant to be hard work. Mem recommends reading to your child especially at bedtime and even if they can read themselves. She also suggests that you never try to make you child learn a word by sounding it out. She suggests that parents who try to force their child to read will scare the child away from reading at all. There is a lot of good topics in this book. I think it really did change the way I'm going to introduce reading to my children.
laurazlsk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Short to the point and a few good ideas as far as making reading more fun for both parent and child.
debhall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for elementary teachers, librarians, and parents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book and every parent or soon to be parent should read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I felt that the book was an easy read and it wasn't loaded with research data left and right. As an educator, I felt that this book confirmed what I already believed. This book is powerful for parents to read and to understand the impact read aloud time has on their child¿s future. Not only does it emphasize the importance of read aloud, but it discusses key tools and activities to do with the child to engage them and teach them so much before they enter school.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book just clarified some excellent points of reading aloud to children since birth. Well written and easy to follow, I couldn't put it down.