Mem FoxTucson’s Pima County Public Library is hosting an early literacy summit titled “Creating a Community of Readers Starting at Birth.” The headlining speaker will be author and literacy advocate Mem Fox.

I’ve been a big Mem Fox fan for a long time. (See this post.) If you go to her site, you should visit the “Read Aloud” section, where you can absorb a little of her passion. And here are Mem Fox’s Read-Aloud Commandments. She says in this Arizona Daily Star article:

“Reading aloud to children between birth and age 5, daily, changes their lives forever,” Fox said via telephone from her home in Adelaide, Australia. “It changes their lives educationally, it changes their lives mentally, it changes their lives in terms of language development.”

This summit sounds as if it will be great, and I wish I could attend myself. I hope that her words about reading aloud fall upon more than the ears of the converted, though. The hardest part of hosting something like a “literacy summit” is that 90 percent or more of those attending – knowledgeable parents and literacy volunteers and professionals – probably already know that children of all ages need to be read to, and that all the parents who haven’t heard Fox’s words and really need to hear them are working, or at the supermarket, or taking the dog to the vet. They aren’t hearing the message, and they’re the ones who need reaching.

That’s why we, the librarians who are out on the floor, or who are visiting a school on a parents’ night, or who are speaking to parents at a preschool, need to be talking up books and encouraging parents to visit the library. Never pass up a chance to talk to the parents who haven’t been converted yet to the “gospel” of reading aloud. Never pass up the opportunity to do a commercial for reading aloud.

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