‘Only one in eight dads take the lead with reading to their children’
I have to admit to being both shocked and not shocked to hear this statistic.
Research interviews suggested that fathers see ‘reading as a female domain’ and tend not to use the resources or follow the practices that mothers do. It is also suggested that when they do read they read more to their daughters than their sons – therefore perpetuating the cycle.
Booktrust report this as ‘a major concern as a father’s involvement in their child’s early reading is proven to boost academic success, leading to improved social and emotional wellbeing’.
Now I agree with some of the comments on the campaign page which suggest that leading reading should be a shared responsibility but I think the concern is about men modelling reading as desirable, particularly to boys. The Booktrust campaign ‘Get Dads Reading’ is therefore challenging dads to match mums in reading. Why not even read and spend quality time all together.
HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall and author James Patterson launched the campaign. Here is James talking about it.
I learnt that James started writing for children to encourage his son to read. He also has his own website ReadKiddoRead that acts as a resource to help parents find books their children might like, and provides lesson plans and activities for educators.
Working late got much of the blame for the lack of reading to children, and research is suggesting ‘that at formal literacy events for children, only 10% of the parents attending are dads.’ This makes me wonder how much support our culture and therefore employers give dads to attend school events such as these.
Writer Matt Haig shares his views here. He suggests the ratio of women to men reading in general is 70:30 and also highlights this is a wider cultural issue with book marketing being directed more to women because they buy more. That capitalism effect again!!
My memory is rubbish so I have no actual recollection of either of my parents reading to me (I barely know what happened to me a month ago so I’m 100% sure they did – ‘I remember’ practicing writing the letters of the alphabet before school and I remember reading lots as a child). What I do recall is both my parents with their nose in a book, laid in bed together or side by side in armchairs reading, Dad bringing one with him in the car when he was taking me for an appointment somewhere. My parents love of reading has clearly rubbed off on me (I used to get told off for spending too much time on the loo with a book!!).
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that I think reading is important for development and wellbeing – I’m almost suspicious of those who say they don’t like reading often wanting to find and suggest books that will “change their minds”.
If you are/or know a dad who takes up the challenge tweet using the hashtag #dadsreading. Believe me your children will thank you for it – eventually.
(Much of the information above comes from a Booktrust press release and I’ve tried to indicate where I used their words).
One thing I wondered when it was mentioned that boys’ literacy is falling was about the impact of this on dads’ reading. Another campaign I’ve heard Kara Tointon talking about recently is Quick Reads. This is where major authors have been commissioned to write shorter stories targeted at the 1 in 6 people who find reading challenging (Kara has dyslexia and on a recent radio show she reported feeling jealous of her sister reading when younger and really enjoying reading when she finally got into it).
You can find out more about Quick Reads and how to purchase the books here.
I’m hoping to interview Rosi Crawley from Booktrust soon, to find out more about the organisation and their work. I’m giving her a couple of weeks to settle into her new job though (Rosi was previously the giver of lovely ARCs at HarperCollins and sent me the press release for this campaign).
Please share with me your #dadsreading stories below?