After the Event: Mem Fox

As part of her national tour to promote her new book “Baby Bedtime”, Mem Fox wanted to present a talk to adults; parents, educators and librarians, in which she would discuss the pros and cons of story books and the ubiquitous tablet with app. Of course we jumped at the chance to work with WESTBOOKS to host Mem’s talk! So we spread the word and approximately 250 people jumped at the chance to be there!

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Mem’s enthusiasm swept us up as she discussed the virtues of children’s story books and demonstrated by reading several of her own (click here for Mem’s 10 Read Aloud Commandments) . She emphasised the interaction that happens when a caring adult reads to a child; the extra comments that add personal understanding and context. This was strongly contrasted with an app on a tablet which is used as a baby sitting tool. Thus the way we use apps denies the child appropriate and timely interaction or supervision. The example Mem gave was an app that had been developed to teach children about bullying. Sounds like a good thing but the difference is in the supervision. The child scores points for their interactions with a character on the screen; more points for kindness and less for bullying. However the action and sound effect on the screen when a child “hit” the character was very entertaining and so the child would quickly lose interest in being kind and scoring points because it was far more fun to repeatedly “hit” the character. If this app was being used with an adult, there would be timely conversation about how unkind or unfriendly this “hitting” was and how sometimes things that appear to be funny are actually hurtful.

For more of Mem’s thoughts on Flashing Screens vs Turning Pages have a look at this dated, but still very pertinent, comment from her website: click here to view Winning the War between Books and Television.

After Mem had answered a few questions, the book signings began and at 8.30pm they finished. It was quite a signing marathon! And Mem was up for the challenge; she spent time with each person and happily signed hundreds of books. And she even had energy for a couple of happy snaps with our Library Staff.

Sincere thanks to the wonderful people at WESTBOOKS for their support.

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