Great Things Happen When Dads Read to Kids

by On June 14, 2013 in Childrens Books, General, Reading

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Ever heard of FRED?

No, not Rogers, Astaire or Flintstone. FRED or Fathers Reading Every Day is a reading program created in 2002 by researchers at the Texas Agrilife Extension program. Armed with reading tips and recommended book lists, fathers are asked to:

  • Commit to reading to kids 15-30 minutes a day for four weeks
  • Log the number of books read and time spent reading
  • Enjoy a party at the end, celebrating reading with other dads/kids

Over 6,000 dads have participated in the program to date. A program evaluation showed FRED significantly improved:

  • Amount of time spent with kids
  • Parental involvement with kids’ education
  • Quality of the parent/child relationship
  • Children’s interest in reading

Other studies on this topic offer a similar message: when fathers and children read together, relationships and children’s literacy benefit.?

For further inspiration, check out these six reading tips from busy dads who know the rewards of reading to kids!

1) Even if you weren’t read to as a kid, read with your child.?

Growing up, I don’t remember my parents ever reading to my brothers or me. The only book I remember being given was Baabar. That’s why I’m a huge supporter of reading to our daughter. ?I understand it’s so important! ?(Tim, daughter age 5)

2) Share your favorite childhood books.

I love revisiting with him the books that I read as a child. Starting with Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon, and on to Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry, this shared experience is part of our special father-son bond. ?(Ken, son age 3)

As my son reads to me from Dr. Seuss’ Are You My Mother? I remember the couch in my childhood living room and the colorful hem in my mother’s homemade dress as I read to her from the same book. Child becomes parent, and the bridge of grandmother to grandchild is warmly smiled upon. (Colin, triplets age 8)

3) Engage your child in the story.?

Reading is more fun if I ask my daughter to predict plot points before we turn the page, like “who do you think is the thief?” Or I connect what she’s reading to her life, like reminding her about the time I spilled cake batter all over the kitchen like Harry Potter spilled his potion. The more personal I can make the connection, the more she connects to the story. (Alec, daughter age 7, son age 1)

4) Never assume they’re bored.?

When reading to kids, it doesn’t matter whether they are doing flip turns on the bed, fiddling with their toes, or re-arranging toys. They are paying attention and – particularly if it is a favorite book – will correct you if you read a word out of place. (Alan, sons 8 and 10)

5) Use a variety of ?strategies and resources to motivate reading.?

We play word games on car rides, make grocery lists together, and encourage her storytelling. We read library books, personal books and use Bookboard, which is really positive – it feels like I’m holding a print book. She also sees me enjoy reading. [Tim, daughter 5]

6) Recognize story time as a two-way gift.

When reading, it’s great watching their bright minds engage and even come up with stories of their own. What they don’t know is that I might take even more enjoyment from this time together than they do. [Brian, daughters 3 and 6]



Diana is a sociologist, freelance writer and mom, though rarely in that order. Her writing spans topics from parenting joys and challenges to prevention education. She writes a monthly parenting blog for Yahoo and has published feature articles on adoption, family rituals and the childcare industry for parenting publications. Diana earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. These days find her hanging with her husband and book-loving six year old in the San Francisco Bay Area, while happily blogging and serving as a reading advocate for Bookboard.

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