"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall."
— Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
If you've read aloud to a young child night after night, one of the picture books has probably been by Mem Fox.
You may not recognize the name, though. She's a writer, not an illustrator, and a lot of different artists have illustrated her books. So they often have wildly different looks (unlike, say, books by Eric Carle which are easy to identify).
She has been a university professor for 24 years, she's an expert in early literacy. So she knows that repetition is one of the keys to learning to read.
Here are Fox's 10 "commandments" for reading aloud to children, borrowed from here:
1. Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners.
5. Read the stories that the kids love, over and over and over again, and always read in the same ‘tune' for each book: i.e. with the same intonations on each page, each time.
6. Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you can remember; or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games.
7. Look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short.
8. Play games with the things that you and the child can see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start the child's name and yours, remembering that it's never work, it's always a fabulous game.
9. Never ever teach reading, or get tense around books.
10. 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 will be presenting a class about this very topic of Read Aloud at the coming Parent Party at Amelia Earhart. I feel very strongly about this topic. I know that the parents of the children in our class are the best parents around! Keep up the great work of reading aloud to your child.