Get Dads Reading

Get Dads Reading
22 February 2013

Only one in eight dads takes the lead with reading to their children. 25% of fathers blame working late for not reading to their children.

HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall and bestselling author, James Patterson, mark launch of campaign with visit to dads' reading group in the Royal Borough of Greenwich

 

UK's leading reading charity Book Trust launches the 'Get Dads Reading' campaign and challenges dads to match mums in reading with their children

 

UK dads trail far behind their partners when it comes to reading to their children. A new poll, carried out for Book Trust by Opinium, reveals that just 13% are the main reader with their child, with a quarter of fathers saying that the demand for them to work late means that they do not have time to read together more often. 

 

These findings are 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. To fight this crisis Book Trust is launching a major campaign to raise awareness of the importance of dads as reading role models for their children.

 

Further research, commissioned by Book Trust from the Institute of Education, sheds more light on this hidden crisis. A series of in-depth interviews reveals that many fathers see reading as a female domain, and are working in isolation, rather than sharing practices and drawing on the networks available to mothers. When they do read to their children, fathers favour their daughters over their sons, reading to them for longer, and more often.

 

Book Trust is calling on dads up and down the country to match mums' efforts in reading with their children. To launch the campaign Book Trust's patron, HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall and bestselling author James Patterson - 2010 Children's Choice Book Award Author of the Year and founding partner of Book Trust's Children's Reading Fund in association with his publisher Random House - visited a thriving dads reading group to see how dads and their children benefit from sharing books. At the moment, research shows that at formal literacy events for children, only 10% of the parents attending are dads.

 

Commenting on the research, Viv Bird, Book Trust Chief Executive, said:

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.

James Patterson - who started writing for children in 2005 in order to encourage his son to read and has developed his own website, ReadKiddoRead, to help dads find books to read with their children - adds:

If we can get children reading and enjoying books, we open up a whole world of possibility to them. I believe that dads have a huge role to play in encouraging their children to read.  We need to give fathers the support they need in reading to their children. If I can help dads to understand their role in making books and reading more important in children's lives, I'll be a happy man.

As part of the Book Trust campaign dads will have access to a whole range or resources and guidance about how to get the most out of reading with their children. A host of celebrity dads - Book Trust's 'Dads Army' - including James Patterson and Dan Snow will lend their support to the campaign

 

 

Find out more about Get Dads Reading

Comments

I've blogged about reasons for dads to read to their children using this campaign as a hook. You can read the blog post here: lucymarcovitch.wordpress.com

Lucy Marcovitch
7 March 2013

While I support any campaign encouraging children to share and enjoy reading with family (especially when boys are lagging behind with their reading), I am aware that this may seem like blaming dads for failing in their role. We need shared reading no matter who it is doing the reading just so long as someone is doing it! Are we going to have grandparents, mothers and siblings regretting they are the main reader with a child? Some people don't read with their children because they are not good at storytelling and are self-concious, let's not make them feel guilty for that. On another note, I'd also be interested in seeing how these statistics took account of single-parent families!

Katie School Librarian
27 February 2013

While I whole-heartedly agree that fathers reading to their children is a good thing, I'm not clear why they should be taking the lead. Surely the best thing would be for both parents to take an equal role. Our children were home educated, mainly be their father, who often read to them at lunchtimes. I read to them in the evenings.

Elizabeth Bentley
23 February 2013

If asked who read most to my children then I would have answered 'probably my wife' as she was at home all day - but I still read to them most evenings before bed. It would have been more helpful to have reported the numbers of days per year on which each parent read at some point (of course many homes only have one parent).

John Heaser
22 February 2013

My father reading to me and my sister is one of my very first memories. I don't think without him reading every evening before we went to sleep either of us would be the people we are today.

Everyone in my family reads at an alarming rate and by reading to us it was the most natural thing in the world to go from listening to reading over his shoulder to sneaking peaks at the book myself before he came to read to us, to reading to myself.

My father worked long hours but we knew that that time was for us, even if it was the only time of the day we saw him. Which made it special.

I still remember the voices he did when reading the William books...

A Russell
22 February 2013

This is an excellent initiative, and I'm astonished that anyone should think otherwise. It's always easy to carp over details (especially when a piece of research doesn't walk in time with your own sensitivities); but Booktrust should not be deflected from seizing every opportunity available to promote literacy and the enjoyment of reading among children. The only observation I would add to the article is that it might be worth challenging the assumption that Dads are only allowed to read to their sons or daughters when they return from work. That presupposes the only reason (and occasion) for reading to children is to put them to sleep!

Peter White
22 February 2013

I have been mounting my own one person campaign to get Dads reading. I have had some success. It is very person centred so it won't be any use to people who want time frames and measuring. It has cost me very little, only books I was happy to buy and give away anyway. I am happy to share it with you if you think it might be any use.

Penny Wiles
22 February 2013

I have been mounting my own one person campaign to get Dads reading. I have had some success. It is very person centred so it won't be any use to people who want time frames and measuring. It has cost me very little, only books I was happy to buy and give away anyway. I am happy to share it with you if you think it might be any use.

Penny Wiles
22 February 2013

I find the whole article extremely patronising to fathers, not to mention statistically fairly weak. It'd be nice for a link to the research as well.

The article doesn't mention though how many women 'take the lead on reading' Presumably more, but I'd assume a lot of the families polled don't make a decision as to who is the main reader. What would be the ideal statistic? I'd have said it'd be best if 0 in 8 fathers take the lead on reading to their children, along with 0 in 8 mothers. That is, that both partners read to their children, sometimes alone, sometimes together.

Bu otherwise, the stat in itself doesn't seem that surprising, only 13% of dads are identified as being the main reader. For one thing, the primary carer of children is overwhelmingly women. That is bad, but comes from many different social and political factors. Inequality of paternity leave, social expectations on women, etc. These things aren't going to be changed with this initiative.

There's so more inadequate facts:

"When they do read to their children, fathers favour their daughters over their sons, reading to them for longer, and more often."

So what about mothers, do they read to their sons and daughters for equal lengths of time? Is this something that is actually to do with the preferences of the child rather than the adult? It seems like an instant judgement has been made that fathers simply 'favour' reading to their daughters because they do so for longer and more often.

Then there's the overall tone of the article:

"Booktrust is calling on dads up and down the country to match mums' efforts in reading with their children."

'Match mums' efforts'! The article itself identifies the fact that many dads would find it harder to read as much to their children as they work late, but this is reduced to calling on them to make more of an effort. You may as well say women should make more of an effort to work. It is unfortunate that there is a separation in the roles of mothers and fathers but it's pretty unhelpful to deal with it in terms of effort. Without breaking down that separation of role, you won't get what you're trying to achieve.

And both quotes in the article seem determined that this is about dads 'understanding' that reading is good for children. I think it highly unlikely that many dads don't understand this, it's just about getting the time.

Find My Library
22 February 2013

You mean 'one in eight takes', of course. It is the one who takes the lead, not the other seven!

NB The Literacy Trust makes the same mistake . . . Sigh. Standards are not wot they used to be.

An editor
22 February 2013

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