When I talked about this on Twitter the other day, I mentioned that Daddio used to read to Little Sis and me when we were kids. We used to sit in the hallway in our pyjamas, tucked under one arm each, as he read to us. When we were really little he used to read us a book about an ironing board turning in to a plane and the ensuing adventures, and when we were older we would read along to The Hobbit and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Our whole family are readers. Every room – even the hallway – is filled with books. Stacked on shelves, on top of one another and higgledy-piggledy on the floor. So it stands to reason that my parents shared the book-reading duties, because we all had such a passion for words.
But according to a report commissioned by Booktrust, only one in eight fathers take a lead in reading to their children. Whether blaming it on too little time (25% say working too late prevents them) or feeling that it’s more of a “female domain”, it still shows that fathers are not getting involved with reading to their children.
Now, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, and bestselling author and founder of ReadKiddoRead, James Patterson, have added their names to support a new campaign, by Booktrust, to encourage more fathers to read to their children – visiting a fathers’ reading club to find out more. When 43% of mothers read to their children every day, Booktrust feel it is vital that both parents are present when it comes to reading to their children.
Booktrust chief executive Viv Bird told BBC radio 4’s Today programme: “The most crucial thing for dads to understand is that if kids see their dads reading they’re more likely to enjoy it themselves. There is evidence that boys are slipping further behind girls in reading and this emphasises how important it is that dads are positive role models to their sons as well as their daughters when it comes to reading.”
Entitled Booktrust’s Dads Army, this campaign is set to show fathers the benefits of reading to their children, with celebrity names and tips on getting started. You can read more here.
I am not dismissing the benefits of a mother reading to a child, but I am much more of an advocate of sharing the duties. Perhaps I’m just a bit of a daddy’s girl, but reading with Daddio are fond memories, and have definitely shaped my reading habits and book tastes since. It makes me sad to think that some children don’t have that kind of relationship with their fathers. In a world where we live to work more than we work to live, I wonder if some things – like reading to children – have fallen by the wayside. Is it too presumptuous to say that many people have replaced the book with the television? … But that doesn’t have the same effect as bedtime stories. There’s a pure joy in being read to (I still love a good audio book purely on the basis that I love the sound of hearing a story being told) and that should never be abandoned.
Which is why I think there needs to be more encouragement to get bedtime reading back on the cards – and it begins here.
Did your dad ever read to you?
What do you think of the new Booktrust campaign?