'Dads aren’t reading enough to their children'

Published on: 07 June 2015 Author: BookTrust Research Team

Our research, based on an Ipsos MORI survey, found that mothers read much more to their children than fathers – despite the number of stay-at-home fathers in Britain doubling over the last decade.

Dads reading with children

From reseach carried out last year, by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by BookTrust, found that almost 50 per cent more mothers read with their child at 0-11 months than fathers. It also showed that one quarter more mothers read with their five-year-old compared with fathers.

This year's poll shows that only 25 per cent of fathers between the ages of 15-24 read to their child every day compared to 61 per cent of mothers of the same age.

We encourage families to read with children early and often as it helps develop their language skills. Even newborn babies are able to remember the tune and sounds from rhymes and songs, which provide the building blocks for reading in later life.

Diana Gerald, BookTrust Chief Executive said:

'It is alarming to see that fathers are still behind mothers when it comes to reading with their children. Now more than ever we need both parents to step up and make time to read with their children because one in five leaves primary school unable to read well. We are urging not only fathers but all parents, grandparents and carers to make a promise this National Bookstart Week - to read to their children for at least ten minutes every day and make some wonderful memories they will never forget.

Reading with your child is fun, and a great way to spend time together. Sharing books with your child helps open their eyes, minds and hearts to different people and situations. If a parent reads to their children every day they will be almost 12 months ahead of their age group when they start school. Even reading to them three to five times a week gives them a six-month head-start over those who are read to less often.' 

Dad-of-one and founder of The Dad Network, Al Ferguson, says:

'Reading to your baby is arguably as important as your baby's feeding and sleeping. Even before your baby is born, reading to your baby in the womb makes a lot of sense. They get used to your voice way before they grace us with their presence. In essence, reading to your baby is exactly the same as speaking to your baby. Babies need to be surrounded by words and books are the best way to do this. It helps avoid feeling like a wally too!

During National Bookstart Week (8-14 June), we will be giving out 450,000 special editions of Giles Andreae's beloved Rumble in the Jungle book to families across the country through libraries and children's centres, with guidance and advice on how to read with children and engage them in books.

In June, and particularly this week, there will be thousands of free events around the country for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their families at libraries, children's centres, nurseries and bookshops. Events include stories, rhymes and lots of fun activities to inspire families to read together.

See more of our research

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