Author: Mem Fox

18 to 23 Months ConceptPoetry/Songs

The soft colors and soothing text make this book a great one to read when it’s time to settle down. The details in the illustrations of different parts of the world are great for starting conversations. The one thing that unites them -- ten little fingers and ten little toes -- will have your little one chanting along and proud of her little fingers and little toes.

Before, During and After Reading

Start with a nursery rhyme.  While sitting with your child, bring attention to her fingers or toes. Use her fingers or toes to say the nursery rhyme, “This Little Piggy.”

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home (touch a finger or toe as you say piggy);
This little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none;
And this little piggy cried “wee, wee, wee”, all the way home… (run your fingers up their arm or leg as you say “wee, wee, wee.”)

Use the title to help your child make a prediction as to what the story might be about.

You might say: “The title of the book is Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. A woman named Mem Fox wrote the words, and Helen Oxenbury drew the pictures. Show me your fingers; let’s count them. Let’s count your toes. What do you think this story will be about?”

Introduce the front cover of the book and talk about what you see. You might say:  ”Touch the baby’s fingers on the front cover of this book. How many fingers do you see? Let’s count them. Let’s count the baby’s toes.”


Let your child fill in the blank. As you read, leave off the last word, touch the picture and see if your child can fill in the blank. For example, as you say the rhyme, touch the picture of the fingers and then the toes and  say: “And both of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little _____ and ten little ____.” If your child does not add in the word, that’s okay. You can fill it in and keep on reading.  

Find opportunities to add drama to the story. Add movement and motion to dramatize the words as you read. For example, on the page where the baby isn’t feeling well and was sneezing and cold, you could sneeze, hug yourself and shiver. See if your child will copy your drama as you read.


Relate the story to your child’s experiences. Look at the pictures and think about a time when your child might have had a similar experience.  You might say: “Look at this picture. What are they riding on? That’s right, a swing! Remember when we went to the playground and you went on the swing? You were going up in the sky and you were laughing just like this baby!”

More to Do

Teach your child the following nursery rhyme.

Ten Little Fingers

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.