Monday, February 15, 2021

Reading Aloud with Mem Fox

 The Australian Open Tennis tournament is going on right now, and while I watch and root for Serena Williams to defy advancing age and the encroachment of the responsibilities of a full life to win another major title, my reading teacher mind turns my thoughts to the great Australian writer for children, Mem Fox. Mem Fox's books have been a part of my read aloud repertoire ever since I discovered Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge back in the mid-1980s. From there it was Hattie and the Fox and what I have come to call  her Marsupial Trilogy: Possum Magic, Koala Lou, and Wombat Devine. Eventually, I got to hear Mem Fox speak at an International Reading Association Conference and discovered that not only was she a great author and a charming speaker, she was also a passionate advocate for reading aloud. You can read what she has to say on the subject in her book for parents Reading Magic - How Your Child  Can Learn to Read Before School - and other Read-Aloud Miracles.

Here are some of my favorite Mem Fox Read-Alouds.

My personal favorite Mem Fox book, deals charmingly with the very real issue of losing your memory as you grow older. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is a bright and adventurous little boy who befriends  a woman who lives in the nursing home next door, Miss Nancy Allison Delacourt Cooper, because she has four names just as he does. When Wilfrid discovers that Miss Nancy has lost her memories, he sets out to help her find them. Julie Vivas' vibrant pastel illustrations bring the story to life joyfully.

Hattie just knows she sees something in the bushes, but she can't get any of her friends in the barnyard to listen. Full of humor and excitement and the torn paper collage illustrations by Patricia Mullins add to the fun.

"Koala Lou, where are you?" cries mom. Koala Lou is off training for the Bush Olympics, which he has entered in the hopes of attracting his mother's attention. Spoiler alert: He does - for all the right reasons.

Wombat's greatest desire is to have apart in the Nativity play during his school's Christmas pageant. The auditions for the show are very nerve wracking for our wombat hero. Will there be a part for him?

The most popular children's book ever in Australia, this is the story of Hush, who has been made invisible through the magic of Grandma Poss. When he wants to see himself again, he and Grandma must travel across Australia to find the magic food that will make him visible. Julie Vivas is back weaving her whimsical magic with the illustrations.

Mem Fox is a magical story teller who has worked with a number of talented illustrators. Her books make great choices for reading aloud whether in the classroom or through Zoom, or especially for a warm and winning bedtime story.


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