Lessons from Mem Fox Day 11

Fun Friday Foto is really Fan-tastic! Thanks, Susanna, for this wonderful idea!


Theme is hibernation…I had a hard time choosing a favorite!

My cat Dakota finds interesting places to hibernate…

This is my sweet little Cate the night I brought her home from the animal shelter.


Mem Fox is hands down my favorite writer of picture books for young children. I met her in 2002 at the International Reading Conference in San Francisco. I was a 26 year old reading teacher who knew absolutely nothing about her or her philosophy about reading aloud to young children. (the horror!)  I scarcely realized at that time what an incredible impact she would have on my life as a teacher and librarian. On that April day in 2002,  Mem taught me and a room full of reading teachers the “right” way to read a picture book aloud.  Ten years later I still utilize Mem’s techniques when I read aloud to my students, and I often think about her when I come across a picture book that is oh-so-read-aloud-able.

Picture book writers must consider the read-aloud potential of their stories when writing and revising manuscripts.  A picture book should lend itself to rhythmic readability. A great read-aloud speaks to the reader and tells her which words or phrases to stre-e-e-etch,  which syllables to stress, and when to quicken!!! or slow… the pace of the text to match the action in the story. Writing a picture book is a fine art, and I admire anyone who can do it well.

Mem has a link on her site called So you want to write a picture book… I was impressed by her sage advice and her brutal honesty with writers new to the business.  Here are a few things that I learned from Mem today:

1. Do NOT self publish! Mem knows people who have lost their homes due to the debt incurred by self-publishing.

2. “Unless you are an art-school trained illustrator don’t even think of doing the pictures yourself.”

3. Keep your word-count under 500.

4. Don’t ask your friend to illustrate your book-even if you think he/she is really good. The publisher will most likely reject it.

5. Keep your cover letter simple, and don’t be discouraged by rejections.

6. Send your manuscript to one publisher at a time. You might as well get an agent while you’re at it as many publishers will only accept manuscripts from agents.

Many new lessons learned today from the one and only Mem Fox! Here is a link to the full article:


P.S. If you are a parent, teacher, librarian, or anyone who impacts the lives of young children, you must read Mem’s book Reading Magic. No excuses!


4 responses to “Lessons from Mem Fox Day 11

  1. Kelly – I LOVE your fun fotos! Especially the one in the linen closet. I had forgotten how my cat used to curl up in there when I was little, and when I saw your picture it brought it back so sharply I could smell the clean linen! And Mem Fox is awesome!

  2. Susanna, thanks for stopping by to check out my pics! Right now my cat is vying for my attention by playing with the laptop cord…lol 🙂 Can’t wait to read more on your blog-you have really terrific ideas!

  3. Cuuuute photos and so happy you were able to give Cate a real home.

    I could not agree with you more about, Mem. Her website is a great resource for picture books writers and her books are also some of my favorites. I reviewed some recently and was surprised how many people don’t know her. I am, of course, green with envy that you have met her! I confess, though, that I have not yet read Reading Magic, so thanks for the nudge!

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