“I like the idea that she’ll remember it was her and daddy – that this was our time.”
Published on: 02 July 2023
Rob and John are part of a growing community of dads attending weekly Saturday Storytime sessions at North Bridlington Library. Here's how these sessions create special shared moments that support their families’ regular reading habits
Finding precious time to read together as a family
Rob has a three year-old daughter and a busy working week. Despite the challenges, he feels strongly about making time for reading a bedtime story to her each night. “I work long hours, so sometimes during the week, it's a little bit frantic,” he says. “I barely see her in the morning and then at bedtime, it is a quick couple of stories and then bed – but it’s actually quality time, where we do something together. Even if you just read one book before bedtime, it's a nice way to calm your child down and get them off to sleep.
“I'm a teacher, so I understand the importance of early reading and the effect it has on the development of children. We read to my daughter twice every night - sometimes through gritted teeth! We've done that right from the day she was born.”
Why Saturday Storytimes at the library work so well for dads
North Bridlington Library recently participated in BookTrust Storytime – a pilot delivered in partnership with local authorities and libraries that aims to encourage families with children aged 0-5 to share stories together and make visiting their library a regular part of family life.
"It's difficult to get dads in, especially during the week when a lot of them are at work," says Paul Hughes, Supervisor for North Bridlington Library says. "One of the advantages of BookTrust Storytime is that we decided to run it on Saturdays - and that's what helped us to actually make contact with the fathers."
Following the success of hosting BookTrust Storytime on Saturday mornings, North Bridlington Library has continued to run these sessions each weekend – and the community of dads coming along continues to grow.
John is one of the dads who attends each week with his two-year-old daughter.
“I work full time from home, which is nice, I get to see our little girl, but my wife looks after her full time,” he says. “Saturday mornings here mean my wife gets a break. We did other things in the library, including other reading events. Then we discovered this one, and it seems like really obvious one for me to bring her along to, even if she does just dash around like a maniac for hours!
“Afterwards, that's usually when me and her start reading stories in the comfy chair in the corner. We get through half a dozen books every time. I like the idea that she'll remember it was her and Daddy, and that this was our time.
“I can see her already taking some of the stories, the names, the things she picks up. When she's playing with her duplo, for example, the story comes out - suddenly she’s like: ‘Oh, a dancing giraffe!’
"Sometimes she'll announce something and everybody else is confused, like: ‘What on earth is she talking about?’ But I'll know, because it came from a story that we were reading. It does make you feel special, because that's my thing with her.
“Like, say, I'm lucky, I'm home all the time. But yeah, I could imagine for dads who are out all day, everyday, that would be even more important.”
Rob also comes along to Saturday Storytimes at the library each week with his daughter. “With baby groups, they’re often all on weekdays, so you don't always get a chance to see your child taking part in those groups," he says. “It's a good opportunity with [this library storytime] being on a Saturday to come and do that. The dads that come along, you can see they are appreciating having that time.”
“I think a lot of parents may not be confident to read a story or not know how to read a story with intonation and so on. The librarians who read the stories here every week are great, and I think parents could learn from that.”
“We're trying to promote that love of reading and what better way to do it then come to a library and be surrounded by books. It's about building vocabulary, as much as anything - and imagination."
Bonding through special moments and shared stories
What advice does John have for other dads when it comes to sharing stories with their families?
“Try a bunch of different books,” he says. “Read the same story 20 times, if that's what they want. Do the silly voices and make it more exciting. It does mean, however, later they might suddenly turn to you and go: ‘Daddy, do the giraffe voice!’, while you’re in the middle of a shop! But it is worth it. Definitely.”