This book is all about the secrets of reading. I had no idea before reading this book that there were secrets about reading and I guess that one must be able to read to uncover these secrets – yikes!
Anyway, Mem Fox puts forth the idea that there are
3 secrets to reading:
1. The Magic of Print – “It’s the ability to recognize and make sense of the many little squiggles on a page. […] To get the message, we must be able to recognize and understand the print symbols and their various combinations. So, if we want our children to learn how to read anything-let alone to read more, or to read more diverse or more difficult material-it helps immeasurably if we can give them as much experience of print as possible.” (76-77)
2. The Magic of Language -It is necessary to understand a language before one can read it! “We can’t read well without understanding the meaning of words, without understanding the clever ways words link to form sentences, without understnding how those words and sentences turn themselves into anything from books, paragraphs, and sentence, to shopping lists, Valentine’s cards, magazines, advertisements, sports pages, and Web sites.” (83) Thus, “If we want our children to learn how to read anything-let alone to read more, or to read more diverse or more difficult material – it helps immeasurably if we can give them as much experience of language as possible.” (84)
3. The Magic of General Knowledge – “The more we know about life, the universe, and everything, the easier it is to read.” (99)
Mem Fox tells these secrets and gives parents ideas about
how to release these secrets to children:
1. The magic of print can be shared by reading books and everything including street signs, cereal boxes, etc. to children.
2. The magic of language can be shared by exposing children to conversation (as opposed to talking to children like they are babies), teaching them songs and rhymes.
3. The magic of general knowledge is shared when we read to our children. “The more we read aloud to our kids and the more they read by themselves, the more experience they’ll have of the world through the things they encounter in books.” Also, taking children on excursions “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.” (101-102)
– The book is easy to read and filled with funny cartoons that relate to the premises put forth by Mem Fox. It would appeal to the general public
– I wish that studies were included rather than personal anecdotes and that references were included to academic works for anyone interested to read more in depth on this topic
– Mem Fox urges parents to make reading fun for kids and helps parents to get into the heads of their kids as they are learning to read and this would be truly helpful for parents and caregivers alike.