Reading Magic

I spotted this book at a reading conference last summer and knew I had to read it.  If you aren’t familiar with Mem Fox, she is one of my all time favorite children’s book authors.  In my mind, Mem Fox creates the reading magic for children.
I’ve spent the past few days reading this book and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  It isn’t filled with new-to-me information but I love the way Mem Fox writes.  This book is just a good reminder of the reasons we read aloud to children.  It also reminds me to share this information with parents.  I always tell parents that the single most important thing they can do for their child, when it comes to education, is read to them.  In this book, Mem Fox explains why reading aloud is important.
In her book, Mem Fox describes Reading Magic happening through 3 avenues.  There is the magic of print, the magic of language, and magic of knowledge.  I won’t go into great detail about all three of these areas because I really think parents should read the book to get the full idea.  I do want to talk about the magic of knowledge because that is what this blog is all about.
This quote from the book sums up my feelings about reading nicely, “Of course children will not only learn about the world from the pages of books.  They’ll learn about it from being in it.  It’s important for us to take them on as many excursions as possible, even it it’s just around the block to the local shops or to the park or the zoo, let alone to another state or country.  They’ll also gather information about the world by listening to interesting adults, watching fascinating television, and learning about anything at all- from computer graphics to making pancakes, milking a cow, or playing soccer.  Expanding their experience in any direction helps them to better understand how the world works.”
I may start to sound like a broken record, but I truly believe that experiences play a key role in our literacy lives.  Every experience we have finds a permanent record inside our brain and we can use that record later on as we are reading or writing.
One of my favorite things to do with young kids is cook.  I have a big collection of children’s cookbooks.  My daughter loves it when I bring a few books home for her to look through and often finds a recipe or two that she is excited to try.  Princess Tiana’s fruit salad was easy to make.
 Baking is always one of my favorite activities.  My youngest has been baking with me since she needed a stool to reach the counter. The picture below was taken when she was 6.
 Last night she did a bit more baking and whipped up a batch of frosted gingerbread cookies, completely on her own.  There may have been a little incident with the flour.  It was pretty comical, but I guarantee it was one of those incidents she will file away and revisit sometime in the future.

I often think about the amount of time we spend growing, picking, and preserving our own food.  As I read aloud to my students, I wonder how many of them have background knowledge about food like my own kids do.  Do they have gardens at their houses?  Do they know where their food comes from or is the read aloud their first introduction to food literacy?

We don’t take huge vacations in our family, but we do take advantage of the range of climate around us.  In the summer we hit the beach and in the winter we enjoy the mountains.  Each and every experience gives my kids a little more information to file away.

As much as I believe in Mem Fox’s three secrets to reading magic, the secret of knowledge of the world has to be my favorite.  For parents, this secret can be the most fun and easiest to do with kids.  Just have fun!  Cook, bake, paint, collect leaves, enjoy the snowfall, walk to the park, and simply enjoy the seasons with your child!  File all of these adventures away and I promise they will be called upon later in life.  Your child may be reading a book a year from now and say, “Hey!  I did that with my mom!”  That sudden connection will make such a difference in your child’s ability to make meaning from a story.

Enjoy your adventures and happy reading!
 Dolen DiariesNap-Time Creations

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