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Tell Me a Story: Mem Fox on Reading Aloud

Listen to Tell Me a Story: Mem Fox on Reading Aloud

Photo of Michael Williams and Mem Fox on the Wheeler Centre stage. Michael watches on with a smile as Mem raises her hands dramatically in the air, eyes closed, a pained expression on her face.

Michael Williams and Mem Fox, in conversation at the Wheeler Centre

Mem Fox is a legend of Australian children's literature. More than 35 years after her first book, Possum Magic, was published, it is still printed in hardback, with its iconic original illustrations by Julie Vivas.

In the intervening years, Fox has somehow managed an academic career as a literacy expert, while writing 40 more books. She’s charmed generations of readers with stories of Australian children and animals, including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little ToesBaby BedtimeWombat Divine and Where is the Green Sheep?

Through her books, Fox has also helped young readers grapple with difficult topics – perhaps most famously with Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Her new book, too, broaches a difficult topic with great wisdom and sensitivity. The Tiny Star is about life and death, and it's told in an unmistakably tender and lyrical voice – the singular voice of Mem Fox – with illustrations by the award-winning Freya Blackwood. 

At this very special event hosted by Michael Williams, Fox discusses her stories and her career. She shares, too, why encouraging us all to read aloud has been such an important part of her work.

Who?

Portrait of Mem Fox

Mem Fox

Mem Fox has written over 38 books for adults and children including Possum Magic, which has sold over three million copies and is the bestselling picture book ever in Australia. Mem has been presented with many awards including an AM in the 1993 Australia Day Honours for services to the cultural life of Australia; an SA Great Award for Literature in 2001; the Prime Minister's Centenary Medal in 2003; and she was shortlisted for the Australian of the Year in 2004. She worked as an Associate Professor of Literacy Studies in the School of Education at Flinders University, South Australia for twenty-four years and is now an international literacy consultant.

Portrait of Michael Williams

Michael Williams

Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.

He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the AgeSydney Morning HeraldAustralian and elsewhere.

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