If you’ve read anything about me for the last thirty years, or heard me speak, you’ll know that my passion is encouraging parents to read aloud to their children. I’d be sad if anyone missed out on the delight of it.... Read More

Ten read-aloud commandments


  1. Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud. From birth!
  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. Or the same story a thousand times!
  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 your child loves, over and over, and over again, and always read in the same ‘tune’ for each book: i.e. with the same intonations and volume and speed, 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 because you just adore being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.

Must-have classics

For children aged from birth to four

The world and I could argue forever about what’s left off this list. Hundreds of other magnificent books exist. These fail-safe, tried-and-true suggestions are merely for parents who need a little guidance before bravely choosing books on their own... Read More

Books for babies under one year old

I had a query from a new mother in Australia in 2010 about books for small babies. I thought it might be sensible to show the world my reply, and a list of books for under-one-year olds. See below…... Read More

Flashing screens or turning pages?

Winning The War Between Books And Television

(I wrote this speech—which later became a chapter in Reading Magic—in the early nineties, before the invention of smart phones or tablets, so please include those devices and any new ones when you see the word ‘television’.)

Television will not go away. It’s here to stay and its attractions are many. One way of doing battle with it might be to... Read More

The Folly of Jolly Old Phonics

A phonics tale of three children(with morals for teachers of reading)
 © Mem Fox 2008

This piece was presented at a conference of Auckland principals in Auckland, New Zealand in April 2008

Thank you. It’s great to be here. My husband is hoping I won’t have free time to buy shoes since shoes are infinitely more interesting in New Zealand than they are in Australia. Many things are more interesting in New Zealand... Read More

Mem on babies in child care

Sept 6th 2008

[Since I wrote this I have had a grandchild. From the age of two he has been in childcare for a few hours on a few days a week.  He loves it. Three cheers for the staff at his child care centre. It’s the kind of place that lets 3 year olds hold live snakes around their shoulders when the man with native animals comes to visit.]

The aim of my recent raw-nerve comment on child-care was... Read More

More discussion about child-care

The email below arrived in early August 2012. I thought it deserved a wider audience so I asked the writer for permission to reprint it here. This is an issue that will not go away, and which must be discussed, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel or how angry. Children and their happy childhoods should not be a topic that we run away from, ever.

Childcare after the age of two is fine in moderation according to the experts. Thereafter, more and more of it is also fine, and beneficial for socialisation, so long as it’s in non-profit, well-resourced centres with happy, well-qualified, long-term staff. The one major problem for me,... Read More