Quick Tip Tuesday: Is Reading to Kids Women’s Work?

July 28th, 2009

This week’s Quick Tip comes from Leanna Landsmann’s syndicated A+ Advice column. A reader asked her recently about how she could get her husband more involved in reading to their kids. Leanne turned to Jane Baskwill, author of Getting Dads on Board for the answer.

Is reading to kids ‘women’s work’?

Question of the Week: I read with our young children nightly. I enjoy it, but it takes time. Since my husband was furloughed and I work two jobs, I asked him to take it over, but he says “women” do a better job. How can I get him to pitch in?

This is a more typical “guy” reaction than you might think. While many dads love “reading hour,” some think they need special skills when it comes to boosting kids’ literacy development. Not true!

Dads are very important to their child’s literacy learning, says Dr. Jane Baskwill, a reading educator who coaches teachers on involving fathers. “Fathers are role models. Whenever a child sees a dad reading — whether to look up information, follow instructions to assemble a toy or simply for pure enjoyment — the child starts to value reading.”

Studies show that children whose dads read with them do better academically, exhibit more social competence, and have more confidence as learners. Data also shows that a father’s reading habits, choices and interests positively influence those of his children. Literacy activities also increase communication and strengthen father-child bonds.

Think beyond books at bedtime, says Baskwill, author of “Getting Dads on Board” (Stenhouse, 2009). “Some dads may not enjoy story hour, but they might love to share an article in the newspaper about a favorite team, work a puzzle, or enjoy reading children’s magazines or comics with kids. Encourage your husband to put his own twist on special time with your children.”

Try these activities.

TELL STORIES: With storytelling, kids learn to listen, imagine, and add to their vocabulary, says Baskwill. Find tips on effective storytelling at eldrbarry.net.

PLAY GAMES AND PUZZLES: When Dad and kids share a board game or tackle a scavenger hunt, the result is conversation, inquiry and discovery. “These are easy literacy activities to extend,” says Baskwill. “For example, one dad creates scavenger hunts with his GPS. Another invented a car game called ‘Signs.’ He calls out a letter, and kids spot signs with that letter. They categorize them in a notebook. He says it’s fun, and he feels like he’s helping them with school.”

POINT OUT THE PRINT: Pointing out “environmental print” — the letters, words and logos that surround us — fans a child’s desire to read, says Baskwill. “These activities are especially good when they relate to things young children love, such as reading labels of favorite cereals and signs of places to visit. As kids get older, let them read, sort, and evaluate the family’s ‘junk’ mail. One dad creates a family scavenger hunt with Sunday’s paper supplements. Kids look forward to it each week.”

RESEARCH AND REWARD: When dads share reading about their hobbies, such as sports, fishing and cars, they’re showing kids how reading helps you keep up with things you like. A dad who is a NASCAR buff might check a fan Web site every day with kids. Conversely, he could tap into a child’s interest. Whet the “reading” appetite of a child fascinated by sharks, for example, by sharing age-appropriate books and TV shows about sharks.

A father doesn’t have to read Junie B. Jones every night to further a child’s literacy learning. “Dads can participate in ways they feel comfortable. As their confidence grows, and they see how much kids enjoy it, they will try new things and expand their involvement. The most important thing is keeping the activities easy, fun and natural. Both father and child will reap great benefits,” says Baskwill.

Copyright 2009, United Feature Syndicate, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Entry Filed under: Quick Tip Tuesday,Reading

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ellee Harp  |  August 2nd, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I am sharing this article with all the Lower School teachers.

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