We are incredibly fortunate to have Mem Fox, Australia's best-selling children's author, read three of her books for CLEFT which you can listen to by clicking the link above. Mem wrote 'Possum Magic' in 1983 and it has since become a favourite for millions of families around the world. It tells the story of the little possum who is made invisible by her grandmother and who has to find magic food to be seen again. 

Here at CLEFT, we believe that all children are special and deserve the same treatment in cleft care, no matter where they live in the world. Mem’s books, especially ‘Whoever You Are’, explores the idea that although we may all look different on the outside, we are much the same on the inside. We think this is a pretty important message, especially as we know that children with clefts can sometimes find it a little harder to be accepted than other children. 'Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes' looks at how each child is very special to its parents - and we certainly agree with this!!

Cleft is the most common facial birth defect and brings with it life-long implications both physical and social. The impact on a child’s life as they grow is profound. Typically, a child with a complete cleft of lip and palate will need at least four operations. They may also require ongoing tests, treatment or therapy. It will affect the way they look but also their speech, hearing and dental development. It can leave deep psychological scars.

Whilst making new friends is important for everyone, children born with clefts have an extra challenge as they may look or sound a bit different. Little Sara and Ibrahim are pictured here making friends with another child in the cleft ward in Dhaka. These children will require many operations to repair their complex clefts. You can read their stories here.

Children with clefts may need many hours of speech therapy to help them develop their sounds. Teeth can grow in unusual places when the structure of the jaw is altered by the cleft and can sometimes be difficult or even painful to access. In a society often focused on a standard norm of beauty, children who look different may grow up feeling insecure or inadequate.

In the developing world, patients with clefts are frequently not operated on until later in life, if at all. As a result, they may be malnourished, and unable to talk well or hear properly. Often, they will be social outcasts. 

At CLEFT, our vision is of a future where clefts are preventable. Until we get there, we want to improve the lives of those born with cleft lip and palate and we hope that you will support us in our journey. Although Mem's book reading is free to download, if you have enjoyed listening to it we would love to hear what you thought of it - you can leave your comments at the bottom of this article. We would also love you to be the first to hear our news by joining our mailing list.

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Book information & lesson plans and instructions

Letter to parents and carers.pdf

Letter to teachers.pdf

'Possum Magic' 

Grandma Poss uses her best bush magic to make Hush invisible. But when Hush longs to be able to see herself again, the two possums must make their way across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible once more. 

Possum Magic Lesson Plan.pdf

'Whoever You Are'

Every day all over the world, children are laughing and crying, playing and learning, eating and sleeping. They may not look the same. But inside, they are alike.

Whoever You Are Lesson Plan.pdf

'Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes'

Here is a celebration of baby fingers, baby toes and the joy they - and the babies they belong to - bring to everyone.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes Lesson Plan.pdf