Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Reading Dad

From my point of view, there's no more important way to encourage literacy in your kiddos than to model that behavior yourself. Kidlit blogger Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page writes frequently and persuasively about the ways we can bolster literacy and the love of reading in little ones. In this post from 2008, she mentions modeling that behavior ourselves, and the importance of doing so especially for fathers. Jen says, "If the only people boys ever see reading are their mothers and their female teachers, it's very easy for those boys to absorb the message that reading is a feminine activity. But if even some of the time your son sees his father reading instead of watching television, that message goes a long way."

Another blog I love, Read Aloud Dad, not only hails the benefits of reading aloud, but also encourages dads to find ways to encourage their boys to read, especially. Not to slight girls, but let's be honest here: there does appear to be a cultural bias toward reading as a somehow "girlie" pastime (about which I strenuously object). Read Aloud Dad did a great interview with Pam Allyn (read the whole thing here) where she makes the case for meeting boys where they are, and reading what they want to read -- and especially reading it with them. So, not only do kids need to see us read, they need to hear it and be surrounded by it, in an environment that establishes the importance of reading in everyday life, not just for school or because we have to.

As a mom I feel particularly blessed to have a husband who values literacy just as much as I do. But for his love of comic books, we may never have met in the first place, and so that common ground has formed a basis on which our relationship has been built. And before Sprout joined our family, we talked a whole lot about reading, and how important it is to both of us that our little man be exposed to concepts, ideas, thoughts, mindsets far beyond the reaches of our little burg -- realms he can only find between the covers of books.

In Sprout's early days home, a major component of the bonding between father and son came about at bedtime, when Jake would hold him with a bottle and read to him. Mr. Brown Can Moo, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Harry the Dirty Dog, Pajama Time. Some classics, some newer titles, most of which likely made zero sense to a one-year-old who'd never heard English before. But now those books stand out as some of Sprout's favorites, and the ones he goes back to again and again. And although both Mama and Daddy read to Sprout whenever he wants us to -- seriously, it's a drop-everything-and-do-it-now activity -- there are some titles that no one does just like Daddy. I mean, Mama tries her best, but she can't top Daddy's exuberance and suspenseful build-up for A Monster At the End of This Book. Not even close.

On this Father's Day, we'll be celebrating with family and spending time riding bikes and playing trains. But when bedtime rolls around, you know just where to find us -- all together, in one place, with our books.

1 comment:

Robin said...

Yay for reading dads! :)