One of the first posts I wrote when I started this blog was this one, about the power of a reading dad. In that post, I wrote that "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." After all, we can only tell our kids so much, but when we show them, when we model the behavior for them, our actions say more than our words ever can.
That's especially critical for fathers of young sons, because of the pervasive idea that reading is somehow a behavior more suited for girls than boys. My husband and I met because of books, and some of the best moments in our marriage have come through the shared love of reading. One of the most important things that Hubs and I can give Sprout, in our estimation, is a love of books - because in doing that, we're giving him the power to satisfy his naturally boundless curiosity. We don't see this as a boy-girl issue, but as an issue of opening up the world to Sprout. And what parent doesn't want to do that for their child?
I wrote, in that original post, of the bonding that took place between Sprout and Daddy during those early months at home. Those were special times, when Hubs rocked Sprout to sleep with a bottle and a stack of picture books. In those often-bumpy first days when our family was first starting out, the familiar rhythm of our own childhood favorites soothed us as parents as much as it did Sprout -- maybe more, if you consider that he didn't know the language yet. It cemented a ritual that we always knew we wanted to establish, even before the first round of adoption paperwork was begun: that of bedtime reading, time to cuddle up with a story and ease into rest and relaxation.
Three years later, I can say that the power of a reading dad has remained undiminished in our household. I absolutely credit my husband's love for literature with the fact that Sprout's enthusiasm for books has only grown. The kiddo is as quick to suggest a family trip to the library on a Saturday afternoon as I am -- while Mommy and Sprout check out the picture books, Daddy's amassing a stack of graphic novels, and we all leave with bookbags bursting. One of Sprout's favorite spots to visit is a local comic shop, where the boys play pinball and arcade games, then check out the racks for the new adventures of Spider-Man or Super Dinosaur. Some nights we read a chapter book at bedtime, other nights Sprout asks for a comic book (and that's usually Daddy's province, since nobody does the Scooby-Doo voice like Daddy!).
I'm so grateful that my husband loves to read and shares that with Sprout. But not all dads are fully aware of the importance of reading, so Zoobean and The Good Men Project have teamed up to promote the culture of reading dads. This is a great initiative and something that's very close to our hearts.
How can you help? Share your stories of what happens when dads read to and with their kids. Share your photos too - post them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and be sure to tag them #dadsread. And tonight, when your kiddos are putting on their pjs, pick out books to share some special #dadsread time together.