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Why fathers should read with their children

Sharing and reading a book with your child strengthens relationships and here's why fathers should lead – and read – by example. Plus, our round up of the best 10 books for dads to read with their kids

Why fathers should read with their children

Encouraging a love reading in children

An important part of learning to read is the input of both parents, if possible. Reading and sharing a book together doesn’t just help develop children’s language skills, literacy, and brain development a boost – it also strengthens relationships. Even after children learn to read by themselves, it’s still important for you to read aloud together.

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As reading books aloud to children stimulates their imaginations, expands their understanding of the world and prepares them to understand the written word. But, interestingly several research studies have shown the importance of a male influence on children’s reading.

The National Literacy Trust published a study several years ago (‘Getting The Blokes On Board‘) that highlighted that 40 per cent of male parents and carers believe their partner is more likely than they are to read with the children. At that time, up to 25 per cent of children were reported to have never seen or heard their dad read.

If men could find the time to read with their children, it would have a huge impact on the lives of their children. According to the Fatherhood Institute, reading results in a closer father-child relationship and can lead to improved child behaviour and higher achievement.

Fathers finding the time to read with their children can be another obstacle. Long working hours and regularly missing bedtime can mean that there's little time to read during the week, but it's definitely worth trying to make the effort.

Why don’t some fathers read with their children?

One of the reasons that fathers let mothers take the lead with reading may be that they were reluctant readers as children. “There are lots of reasons to hate reading as a boy,” says Tom Palmer, author of Foul Play, football mystery series. “There are better things to do like playing out; playing computer games and watching TV. ‘Reading is for swots’ pretty much summed up my boyhood attitude.”

Finding the time to read with their children can be another obstacle. Long working hours and regularly missing bedtime can mean that there’s little time to read during the week, but it’s definitely worth trying to make the effort. One solution is to schedule reading time at the weekend, or before school.

What’s in it for fathers?

“Reading with my daughter has been incredibly worthwhile and we are closer as a result,” says Palmer. “Fathers are important role models. When fathers read to their child, it helps your child realise that reading isn’t boring or uncool, and that everyone does (and can) enjoy reading.” A father’s choice of books might also be a little different to a mother’s, which not only exposes children to different books or stories but helps develop shared interests.

As another study suggests that children might benefit more from having their father reading them bedtime stories than their mother. As it found that dads initiate more “imaginative discussions” and advance their children’s language development because of the way they read to their kids. It also indicated that families where fathers engage in reading activities with their young children are more likely to resolve family conflicts calmly and with compromise.

Top tips for Reading Success for Fathers and Male Carers

  • Make reading fun, not a learning process.
  • Read in silly voices, and talk about the pictures as well as the words.
  • Have a day out at the zoo, or the seaside, and then find books about it to read that evening.
  • Go to author events at local bookshops, or the library together and make it part of an outing.
  • Let your child see you reading – you’re the best enticement to read there is!

10 Great Books for dads to read with their kids

Yes, dads protect, feed, and defend their children – but they’re also responsible for introducing their kids to the world around them in their own unique way. This is where books can help.

My Dad Used to Be So Cool by Keith Negley

A little story about father and son, while also serving as a wink and a nod to parents whose party days are behind them it also perfectly demonstrates the sacrifices a parent makes for their child, but how beautiful those sacrifices really are. Negley’s books explore 21st-century masculinity issues for little dudes with sincere and sophisticated illustrations and words. See book below also.

Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley

Did you know that wrestlers have feelings? Knights do too. Even superheroes feel sad sometimes. In fact everyone has feelings – even dads who love their children! This book is a light-hearted way to open up a discussion with children about emotions and how they affect us all.

My Dad by Susan Quinn and illustarted by Marina Ruiz

With lyrical rhyming text and gentle illustrations, this is a joyous celebration of fatherhood that busts-stereotypes by celebrating the everyday things (like baking cookies, doing the gardening together) a dad does that make him a wonderful father.

Daddy’s Sandwich by Pip Jones and illustrated by Laura Hughes

Join one little girl on her quest to make her father the perfect sandwich, whether he likes it or not… with hilarious consequences and a sweet aftertaste.

Kevin by Rob Biddulph

A glorious picture book story all about one boy, one imaginary friend named Kevin, and one very special friendship – with vibrant colours and characters and rhyming text make it a delight to read aloud.

The Boys by Lauren Ace and illustrated by Jenny Lovlie

A beautiful follow up to The Girls – The Boys sees the adventures of four boys as they grow up, forming bonds of friendship to last a lifetime – even if they are occasionally put to the test.

An Alphabet of Stories By Oliver Jeffers

From an astronaut afraid of heights, to dynamic detectives the Owl and the Octopus, by way of some rusting robots, you will find within this book a short story inspired by every letter of the alphabet. Dads can change up their voices and tones to share these funny, sad, mischievous and surprising and always entertaining mini-tales.

Dustbin Dad by Peter Bently and Illustrated by Russell Ayto

A funny book where the dad in the book has a penchant for leftover food – even the bits that are soggy and chewed – he literally eats EVERYTHING! But when, one day, he accidentally guzzles the cat’s Puss-Pep-Up Powder, strange things start to happen . . .

My Dad by Anthony Browne

A warm vintage title that is warm, hilarious, witty and very personal tribute picture book that celebrates  all kinds of dads everywhere.

Daddy Hairdo by Francis Martin and illustrated by Claire Powell

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A hilarious story for anyone – especially dads – who have had to deal with the tangle of a daughters hair. Amy’s hair is so long she could throw it down a tower to let up a handsome prince! Only, her hair is really inconvenient – especially on windy days – so, her dad comes up with some innovative solutions, and soon everyone wants one of Daddy’s hairdo’s