Reading to Children: What and When

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“If we read a minimum of three stories a day [to each child] we could probably wipe out illiteracy in one generation” (
Reading Magic , page 12).


Mem Fox feels strongly about the power of reading. She even believes many (if not all) children can learn to read simply by being read to–no training necessary. Her own daughter learned to read without being taught, and Fox attributes that to reading aloud to her (see chapter one).


Something great about Fox is she gives parents many specific guidelines for reading to children.


What to Read

As you saw in the beginning quote, Fox advocates reading three books a day to a child. She says ideally, you will read one favorite story, one familiar story, and one new story–although the same story three times in a row is okay, too (page 17). You of course don’t need to limit yourself nor your child to three stories a day–three is your minimum. 


When to Read

She also encourages parents to read anytime and all the time (page 34), but she also highly advocates having reading happen before bedtime. She goes so far as to say reading MUST happen at bedtime (page 36). The things learned just before bedtime are processed over and over again in the night, so any new vocabulary words or lessons learned from the stories read will solidify in your child’s brain best if read just before bedtime.



I have commented before, but Reading Magic is a great, fast read for parents who want to get more information on why reading is important and is full of ideas on how to read to children (that post coming). Mem Fox is great at giving specific ideas to work with.

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Unknown
    April 20, 2012 / 11:57 AM

    We are living proof that this is true. Our son was reading Dr. Seuss and Little Blessing books about 3 months before he turned 3, and he LOVES reading both new and familiar books. We are asked all the time how we trained him so early, but the only thing we can say we did is read to him from the time he was a newborn including every nap and nighttime. We did not know about this method nor were we purposefully "teaching" him to read, but we all just love that time together so much. To God be all the glory! Happy reading!

  2. Stephanie
    April 27, 2012 / 9:22 PM

    I home school my 3 1/2 year old and there is no TV during the day. I started getting more books from the libary, reading, leaving them out and now he reads all the time, getting excited about the books! Before, he would ALWAY choose TV over a book.

  3. Plowmanators
    May 18, 2012 / 4:33 AM

    Thanks for your comments!Stephanie that is cute that he chooses books over TV.

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