Encourage dads to read with their children this Father’s Day

This Father’s Day (June 21), Language Magazine would like your help in encouraging fathers to share in the unique joy of reading with their children. While Father’s Day is certainly a tempting opportunity to go fishing, golfing, or to visit an old car show, the day is really about the gift of having children, and sharing in their development.

Fathers are becoming more involved than ever in their children’s lives, but they can do more when it comes to helping to develop their children’s literacy.

Young fathers in particular are unlikely to read to their children —studies suggest that only 19% of 16- to 24-year-old fathers enjoy reading with their children.

The Good Men Project, an international community discussing the changing roles of men in today’s world, is helping to address this concern with the #DadsRead campaign. Reading is a wonderfully nourishing and inspirational gift that fathers can share with their kids and, for the dads that already do read with their children, there is no better time of year to say “Thanks, Dad” than Father’s Day.

Encourage the dads you know to share personal stories, articles, and images across social media using the hashtag #DadsRead.
Here are three ways to show your support for this grassroots initiative:

1. Share photos of dads reading with the world. If you have a great picture of a dad reading with a child OR if you’re a dad and you have a picture of you reading with your kids, share it on Instagram or Twitter and tag it with #DadsRead.

2. Share your stories about the importance of dads reading with us. If you have a favorite article or blog post about the importance of dads reading, share it on Twitter or Facebook with the #DadsRead tag. If your dad helped you develop a lifelong love of reading, tell us in the comments below or comment on one of our stories that we’ll be sharing on Facebook.

3. Tell people about #DadsRead. Do you know someone who might be interesting in the #DadsRead campaign? Think it sounds like just the sort of thing that your library’s reading group might be interested in? Help us spread the word.
Reading Rockets offers the following advice for fathers who have difficulty reading:

Even if you’re not a reader yourself, your participation in literacy activities at home can have a profound impact on your child’s academic achievement. You just have to send the message that reading is important! Here are some other simple ways to incorporate literacy into your everyday routine with your child:

• Tell stories about when you were young
• Recite nursery rhymes or jingles
• Read environmental print (road signs, brand names on containers)
• Ask your child about his day. Conversation with adults helps children learn new words and practice creating a narrative — both linked to better reading skills
• Check out books of photography or art and talk about the pictures
• When you are doing household projects, describe what you are doing to your child
• Involve your child in everyday writing tasks like shopping lists or paying bills
• Create games that use letters, words, or problem solving
Encourage fathers to use the language they are most comfortable speaking. Reading skills transfer between languages, and they will be better at playing with words and language in their native tongue.
The familial bonding and literacy development of reading to children contributes to their emotional and intellectual sustenance in many ways and we can all stand to be reminded why.

Books provide a shared storyline. Both parent and child are in the book’s adventure together; the act of mutual discovery enhances the learning experience for the child in both absorbing the allegorical meaning of the story and receiving exposure to greater reading comprehension and increased vocabulary.

Books can make us laugh, and feel, and think. Reading out loud also helps with an instrumental function in literacy development: pronunciation. When the characters of books are given their special voices and accents, children benefit in the exposure to diversity in both character traits and the act of creative interpretation and improvisation.

Perhaps most importantly, a child’s perception of the importance of reading increases when they see their father doing it. By making a big deal of reading to our children, we make a big deal about reading. In these days of apps and video streams, everything we do now to give reading its due importance can only extend positively into our shared future together.

So, for the love we have for fatherhood, for the joy we find in stories, and for the importance we place on literacy development, we encourage all fathers young and old to read something new to their children this Father’s Day. Here are some great books to try:

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Go, Dog, Go! by P. D. Eastman
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
Watership Down by Richard Adams