My dad was an avid reader – sci-fi, thrillers, historical fiction, and publications that went deep into his interests and hobbies. As I got older, I read the books he finished, marveling about the imaginative worlds and characters. Oftentimes, we discussed the deeper messages and themes that applied to our lives.
My love for reading continued when I became a dad. I read to my daughters every night, giving each character a distinct voice. It was a time to bond, build memories, and instill a love for reading that would engage another generation.
Research shows that when dads read to their children:
- Their child's language development increases as they grow older
- Dads tend to act differently than moms
- Dads experience the following benefits:
- Greater skill acquisition (e.g. literacy, employability)
- Greater confidence and self-esteem
- A better father-child relationship
- His own increased engagement with learning
Given these benefits, here are four ways you can help dads read to their children.
- Encourage dads to read to their children as part of your fatherhood program. Integrate the importance of reading into your group or one-on-one sessions; case management plans; and events.
- Connect dads to organizations that have a reading component. There are organizations in your community that help parents read to their children. Some examples include Head Start/Early Head Start, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, and schools.
- Remove barriers that prevent dads from reading to their children. If you have low-literacy dads, stress how important it is to be a role model, the benefits of reading to their children, and how their relationships with their children will improve by reading to them. This knowledge can motivate dads to work on their own literacy skills. If dads don’t live with their children, encourage them to read stories over their phone or video (e.g., FaceTime). If dads don’t have access to books, create a lending library or help dads connect with their local library. Many libraries provide access to online books.
- Provide dad-child reading lists of books for different ages. Here are some great booklists to consider:
- PBS Kids’ Fabulous Fathers Children's Books
- Early Childhood Development Association’s Book Recommendations - Celebrating Father, Daddy, Papa
- We Are Teachers’ 22 of Our Favorite Father's Day Books for Kids
When you help dads read to their children, you’re providing them with a powerful parenting tool. There’s no better way for dads and children to have fun, learn, bond, and create lifelong memories together!
Do you encourage dads to read to their children? In what ways have you done this?
Which of the suggestions above will you use to help dads read to their children?