“In most families, mothers are the ones who read most frequently to their children. A recent study conducted by the Booktrust in Britain found that mothers are 50 per cent more likely to read to their children than fathers…
When fathers are very involved in children’s daily activities and routines, children are less likely to have behavioural problems, are more social and do better in school. In our research though, with 500 low-income fathers in the US, we found that when fathers read frequently to their children at a young age, this had an impact on their language development one year later and their literacy development two years later. We were quite surprised by this finding.
What was even more striking, was that mothers’ book reading did not have this significant impact on child development. When we looked more closely at what was happening during book reading interactions, we found that fathers used more abstract and complex language.”
See Dad Reading to His Children in the New Dads4Kids Ad.
2. Children Want To.
83% of children across all age groups say they love to be read to. Many children say they miss getting read to as they get older. Kristen Harmeling, a researcher at YouGov, a consulting firm that helped Scholastic to conduct the study, said one clear message for parents from this survey is to “start early and stay at it.”
3. Develop a Love of Reading.
Readers are leaders. Research shows that motivation, interest, and engagement are enhanced when reading aloud. This can improve children’s attitudes about books and foster a love of reading. Ideally, create a daily habit to read to your children. This is a great excuse to turn the TV off.
4. Teach New Concepts in a Fun Way.
Reading books is a great way to introduce new concepts to children in a fun and comfortable way. If you are already reading to them regularly, it will be easy to introduce books on topics and concepts that are new to them. The stories in books, and the stories you tell, will introduce them to different speech sounds, new vocabulary, and a love for knowledge.
5. Build Vocabulary.
The more words you use, the more words a child knows and can use. Children’s books have been shown to use more unique words than television, movies, or other media. New words encountered in context are easier to define and understand. The best way to learn is by example.
6. Improved Academic Success.
Reading advances learning. Numerous studies show a direct correlation between reading to a child and academic success. Students who are read to have a higher aptitude for learning and more positive attitude about school. Linguistic information is best stored in the brain’s auditory system.
Children who listen to books being read over many years are more likely to develop competence in written and verbal communication skills. According to research conducted by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) when fathers read to their children, it has a significant impact on their language development.
Their study, which involved 405 two-parent families, asked them about their reading habits with their children. The study looked at children’s reading habits at age two and compared their language and literacy abilities two years later at age four.
Results found that fathers who read to their children at age two had predicated better language development at age four.
7. Reading Builds the Brain.
Children understand at a higher level than they can read. Learners can typically comprehend text that is two or more grade levels above their independent reading level. Science shows that reading for young or old stimulates the brain.
8. Improved Decision-Making & Critical Thinking.
Reading out loud allows you to develop your child’s critical thinking skills. By asking your child to think about things outside of what is contained in the story, it helps them grow and develop their imagination and critical thinking skills.
When reading with your child, you have the opportunity to discuss topics and ideas that might not come up in the normal course of events. Children’s author Katherine Patterson said,
“Books are a dress rehearsal for life.”
When children pick their own books, they tend to pick the same type of texts (over and over). If Dad helps in choosing books, the children are more open to change. Children tend to be more open to new genres and themes when read aloud. Reading helps children build skills for life!
9. Fathers Are Role Models.
This is the case for both boys and girls, but especially for boys. If the only person they ever see reading to them is their mother or (usually) female teacher, they start to see reading as a female activity. Fathers reading helps to prevent this belief. When your child sees you reading, or when you read to them, you set a good example and tell them that reading is important and valuable.
Likewise, an extensive Bureau of Statistics study by the Swiss Government showed that if a father goes to church regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two thirds and three quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). In statistical terms, a child is 19 times more likely to follow the father’s leadership in this area than a mother’s leadership.
It seems that children look to fathers as leaders in the family. Fathers are important role models for their children.
10. Bonding & Building Relationships.
In some ways, this is the most obvious and the most important. Spending time reading with your child is an opportunity to get closer, both physically and emotionally. Even if you don’t snuggle up, just being close to your child to share a book can foster much deeper bonding and build a much better relationship.
Well, here we go. Let’s get the dust off those books and start reading with our children. Grand-dads can do it too.
Walt Disney’s words of wisdom comes to mind:
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island.”
Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker.
Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”
The Fatherhood Foundation Incorporated trading as Dads4Kids is a Harm Prevention Charity listed under Subdivision 30_EA of the Australian Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 with Tax Deductible Status (DGR) for donations
Dads4Kids – Building Men. Growing Fathers. Changing Generations.