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LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow: On Dads’ Reading to Their Kids

Posted by Ryan Sanders

This post is from LeVar Burton. LeVar is the Actor/Producer who Co-Founded Reading Rainbow Kidz. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

As a father of two, I know from personal experience how difficult it is for working dads to find time to spend with their kids. Time really seems to be the scare “currency” of the 21st century. So when we do spend time with our children, spending it wisely is imperative. It probably comes as no surprise to you that for me, reading is one of the best ways I know to make great quality out of scarce quantity.

levar burton reading rainbow kidzReading to our young children provides two critical components to their lives: the closeness that comes from sharing stories together; imagining, pretending and learning that few other activities provide. It also gives them proven educational advantages they will gain from for the rest of their lives. Study after study demonstrates a clear correlation between kids whose parents read to them consistently before kindergarten and greater scholastic achievement.

So back to Dads. Any parent can (and should!) read to their kids, but why are Dads so important? Kids are remarkably aware of the world around them, much more so than we give them credit for. They role model after both parents and they have a keen eye for where priorities are in their family. Moms in our society tend to be the caregivers (even when they are also the breadwinners)…the “go to” for so much of the personal, intimate attention kids need.

Dads tend to be less about closeness and more about “play.” Reading is by nature a very close and personal way of communicating. At bedtime or on the couch (instead of TV), Dads curled up with a young one reading offers a great chance for men to be close to their kids; connected through books to the greater world around them. 

Taking this time “just for them” also offers a more subtle message about their priority in a father’s life. They know we dads are busy and often tired when we come home. Kids hear and see it. When a Dad takes the time away from other activities, when we make that special effort to read with just them, we teach them quietly how very important they really are to us. They see that we use precious time, that scarce currency, not for football or returning phone calls or the internet, but for them.

So Dads, pick up a book or a tablet tonight and read with your kids. Read to them in silly voices, make up new endings to familiar stories and look into their eyes afterwards and see just how much return you get on the investment of 15 minutes of our scarce but immeasurably valuable time.

Reading Rainbow’s mission is to inspire a love of reading in children and connect them to the world they live in through quality literature so they believe that they, “can go anywhere, be anything.”

Try the app for FREE on your iPad (at the iTunes App Store) or Kindle (at the Amazon App Store), download any of our Classic Reading Rainbow episodes on iTunes or learn more about Reading Rainbow and all our digital products at www.readingrainbow.com.

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