Is the bedtime story Mum time or Dad time?

20th May 2014
Is the bedtime story Mum time or Dad time?

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you'll know that we recently asked how often Dads read the bedtime story. For many (and thank you for all the responses!) Dad is an essential part of the bed time routine, and that moment of sharing a book is an important one for both parent and child. But these Dads tend to be in the minority. All the research points to Mum as being the chief book reader. A survey last year, on behalf of reading charity BookTrust, found that only one in eight dads are the main family reader with over a quarter citing their work hours as the reason they don't read more to their children.


This is the reality for many families but it's not the only reason. Others include the perception that reading and home work is more Mum's domain while some men don't feel comfortable reading out loud and others might not read much themselves so don't put such value on it. In our family I'm the one that tends to switch off the television and declare cheerfully (and usually to grumbles) that it's ‘book time'. It falls to me because I enjoy it, despite the constant challenge of finding books that really engage my six and seven year old boys. My husband will read to them (and indeed has written about it for this blog here) but on the evenings I'm not there I'm pretty sure that the ‘book' bit of the bedtime routine is side-stepped.


And that's fine - you only need one book firebrand in the house - but the fact remains that Dads carry particular weight when they do read to their children. There's a short video on the Booktrust website where the children's author James Patterson talks about this. Dad's involvement in reading and his active encouragement, he says, send a powerful message to children. This is particularly true of boys who look to Dad for approval and support - and are also more likely to lag behind in literacy levels in their early years at school.


If only the experiences shared by our followers on Facebook were adopted nationwide! They show that Dads are just as involved as Mums when it comes to reading - and are often better at ‘silly voices' and making reading time fun according to some. In fact I have a feeling that things might be changing, and that's not just because of the Facebook feedback, which I have to acknowledge is pretty skewed. There are now reading groups for Dads at libraries up and down the country (see the BookTrust website for details) and the stereotypical image of Dads kicking a ball around with their son, but doing little else, just doesn't hold true.


We're always told that the one thing children prize above all else is time with their parents. Let's spend at least some of it sharing a book.

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Comments
20th May 2014 - ReadItDaddy
As a dad book blogger (apparently we're a bit of a rare beast) I loved this post to bits. We do love doing our silly voices when we read out loud. More though is the feeling that you're spending time with your little ones doing something that you both get such a huge reward from. There really is no greater feeling than knowing that because you've been engaged with your child's reading even long before they could pick up a book and read to themselves, that you've given them a solid foundation in reading for pleasure rather than some crazy way of just sneaking in extra learning through books. Awesome post and keep it up both mums and dads, it truly is worth it.
20th May 2014 - Itsyourstory
Thank you for your comments and I couldn't agree more. For anyone reading this, do check out ReaditDaddy's blog ( http://readitdaddy.blogspot.co.uk/ ) which gives a Dad's perspective on reading to your children and is full of book reviews (with input from daughter too).
 
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