“Growing up I didn’t get read to, it was more from school and things like that. But I made sure reading was a staple in my daughter’s routine”

Published on: 02 July 2023

Being a first-time parent challenges you to put yourself out there in so many new ways. 

Lee and Luke from Cornwall share their experiences of how WILD Young Parents Project has supported them to explore the fun of sharing books and story-related activities with their families using BookTrust resources – and what they feel their children have gained from this. 

Lee reading to his daughter in a gardenLee and Luke Keast, Dads Worker for WILD Young Parents Project reading to Lee's daughter

Sharing stories sparks imagination

Lee is a first-time dad with an eighteen-month-old daughter. Since using BookTrust resources and taking part in book-related family activities with WILD, Lee has been enjoying how sharing stories together fuels his family’s imagination. 

“Growing up I didn’t get read to,” he says. “It was more from school and things like that. But I made sure reading was a staple in my daughter’s routine. I didn’t know books could have meanings that teach you a lot. I’ve learnt a lot with my daughter. 

"We use the books that are given out here all the time. They are fantastic, the random pop-out features and all the other bits that come with these books, they keep her entertained. When I brought a picture book into the house and went: 'Oh look, let's read this at bedtime," little did I expect something to jump out at usShe enjoys this a lot - she tries to grab it.” 

He adds: “Story time is magic because of the imagination. You can go from a simple bedroom with four walls and some drawers into a magical land with weeds everywhere and a castle in the background. A bathtub becomes a swimming pool. The beach becomes an island. I think it's about letting yourself explore and be a child again. That's why it's magic to me."  

How books are developing children's understanding

Lee has seen first-hand how books are shaping his daughter’s understanding of the world.She’ll go and pick up a book and, without even us trying to teach her what things are, she’ll just point and tell us what it is.  

That’s when I’ll run to my partner and be like: “Oh, she knows what a pig is now!’” That’s the crazy part for us -how quick she can develop and learn, just because of what the books bring." 

Meanwhile, Luke has been coming along to the WILD allotments since his daughter was three months old. “We read her a book in the morning and a book in the evening,” he says. “She enjoys it, she gets excited!  

It’s important for different people to read to her so she gets inspired to read by different people around her. And for her to spend time with her dad as well, because he does work quite a bit. We’re both dads, so either way she’s got a dad reading to her.” 

Luke and his partner prefer to read to their daughter together for back-up and support. “I love reading, but I’ve loved reading since I was little, so I don’t mind reading to her,” he says.  

“My partner doesn’t read as often so I think reading to her was a bit out of his comfort zone. We sit down as a family to read together. Sometimes we take it in turns doing the voices. She really likes that, it makes her laugh. If I’m there, he’ll find it easier to read to her.”  

Luke reads his daughter a bookLuke reads his daughter a book

Not being scared to look silly

Both Lee and Luke have challenged themselves to join in with the interactive reading-related activities that happen at WILD’s allotment. 

“I know she likes to copy me quite a bit,” says Luke. “If she sees me enjoying it then she’ll be more interested in it as well.” 

Lee adds: “At WILD, they're not really scared about making themselves look a bit silly. I think that really helps to show us how to be, and to not really care so much about how people perceive you, and more what you should do to encourage your little one.  

"I think it's just about putting yourself out there. I think at the start, it's very hard. I still find challenges. That's just the thing about being a dad and learning. It's all very scary, but that's the big challenge you’ve got to take yourself. By seeing your child develop, I think it'll encourage you to do it more.”  

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