World Book Day 2021: Encouraging fathers to read to their children
As parents, we know reading is important, from a young age it has a profound impact on a child’s development, social skills and language. When parents read to their children it also strengthens the relationship, makes you feel closer both emotionally and physically and improves engagement.
But as fathers, just how much of an impact do you have?
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 2 years later at age four.
Results found that fathers who read to their children at age two had predicted better language development at age four.
We also know when fathers and father-figures are more involved in their child’s lives, it has a direct impact on their school performance, academic levels and overall wellbeing.
When fathers read to their children, it has a different impact compared to mothers
Researcher, Elisabeth Duursma found when mothers read to their children, they tend to focus more on the events in the book, prompting the children by asking them to name the object, the colour and what they see. Whereas fathers tend to relate events in the book to outside contexts and their child’s own experiences. For example, if there is a pool pictured, fathers will relay a memory of when they swam in a pool. This different thinking is said to be better for children’s brains because it’s more challenging.
Fathers serve as important reading models
You are a role model, especially to 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 tells them reading is important and valuable.
Reading strengthens your relationship
Reading promotes bonding time with your children and helps fathers and children to feel closer emotionally and physically.
Sharing a book helps to develop fine motor skills
Having your child turn the pages or hold the book. You can also get involved in developing their skills by doing puzzles, drawing, writing or cutting.