Storytime with Jessica – Mem Fox

It’s my time again to share with you some books, rhymes, and craft for you to share with the children in your life and this time around I’m going to be talking about an Australian author whose books are a part of so many of our childhoods; Mem Fox.

There are books that we all know sooo well – Possum Magic, Where Is The Green Sheep?, and The Magic Hat so I won’t be talking about them today (and interestingly enough all of those posts are by Karen so I think she might be a Mem Fox fan too).

Instead I’m going to talk about some books that are still well-known but maybe less widely talked about.

The Books

Book Cover - Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge” title=“View this item in the library catalogue
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

This is such a beautiful book. Inter-generational relationships are very important (these are the relationships between generations, grandparents and grandchildren ages whether related or not) and this book is all about the power of those relationships and the power of memory and how memories can relate to different times but still affect us the same. If you haven’t read this book it’s about a boy named Wilfrid with four names, and Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper (who lives in the nursing home next door and who also has four names). Nancy has Alzheimer’s (though this is never directly mentioned in the book) and can’t remember things so Wilfrid sets out finding out what a memory is, with the help of other elderly people, and giving Miss Nancy back some of her memories. It’s a moving and at times sad story that is also incredibly positive and I love sharing this with children and they can all think of memories or things that fit the criteria that Wilfrid uses.

Book Cover - Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” title=“View this item in the library catalogue
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

This board book is all about diversity and babies. While we know that not every baby in the world is born with ten fingers and ten toes a vast majority are and it’s something that connects babies to one another regardless of other physical and cultural differences and this book is both a celebration of that sameness and that diversity. With the benefit of rhyming, repetition, and joyful writing.

Book Cover - Hattie and the Fox” title=“View this item in the library catalogue
Hattie and the Fox

Hattie the hen, is an observant little bird, and one day she sees eyes in the bushes…the other animals are not concerned and each offer a response that will be repeated as slowly, but surely, Hattie sees a nose, and feet, and a mouth and then…A FOX. This also gets the attention of the other animals and the terrifying cow scares the fox away. This book has a really fun to read rhythm and I quite enjoy sharing it with groups of children because the illustrations also give the children something else – knowledge that the characters don’t have. Most kids know what is hiding in the bushes and they love to know more than the characters in the book.

The Rhymes

I thought to myself, you know what would be fun this week – a rhyme related to each of the books. Then I realised how difficult memory would be and amended it to this information:

  • Rhymes, songs, singing, reading, being read to all improve memory.
    • Children learn the story, rhyme, song and can then repeat it back, or retell it, and that is working their brains memory and improving their brain development which is very important.
    • By repeated it back they are also building understanding and vocabulary (the first step is understanding and then being able to create the words themselves).

And then two rhymes for the other books since all rhymes are good for memory.

Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes

Ten little fingers, ten little toes,
Two little ears and one little nose
Two little eyes that shine so bright
And one little mouth to kiss mother goodnight.

Ten little fingers, ten little toes,
Two little ears and one little nose
Two little eyes that shine so bright
And one little mouth to kiss father goodnight.

And you can change the kisses to include nanas, aunts, uncles, and siblings so this would be a great night-time rhyme/song.

Cluck, Cluck Black Hen
Tune: Baa-Baa Black Sheep

Cluck, cluck red hen
Have you any eggs?
Yes sir! Yes sir!
As many as your legs!

One for your breakfast
And one for your lunch!
Come back tomorrow,
I’ll have another bunch!

Cluck, cluck red hen,
Have you any eggs?
Yes sir! Yes sir!
As many as your legs!

The Craft

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

What you need:

  • Paper, large enough for two hands, two feet, or both together
  • Pencils/textas/markers
  • Hands and feet

What you do:

  1. Trace around your hands.
    • This is great for fine motor skills and eye control. But some children will struggle with their non-dominant hand so you might have to help them.
  2. Count the fingers (if you child doesn’t have ten then count to their number and make adjustments as we go through).
  3. I think this is a great opportunity to reinforce left and right so write that on there too.
  4. And give your child a chance to practise their writing – [name] has ten little fingers.
  5. Trace around your feet.
  6. Repeat steps 2-4 for feet.

Mem Fox is also a literacy advocate so if you’d like to know more, check out her website for more information about her process and her fight for better literacy practices.


Jessica

Author: Jessica

I was a teacher for six years before becoming a Young People’s Services Librarian. I taught everything from kindy to year seven and I’m really excited to be working towards greater early literacy with the children of Cockburn.

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Storytime with Jessica – Mem Fox

by Jessica time to read: 5 min
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