By Guest Blogger, Jamie Menard, MA in Reading As we celebrated Father’s Day this past weekend, many of us took the time to reflect back on the fond memories we have of our fathers when we were growing up. We think about lessons our fathers taught us, times we spent with our dad and the contributions our own fathers made on our lives. We purchase gifts for these men to let them know how much we truly love them and appreciate everything they taught us, sacrificed for us, and provided us with. What our fathers may not have realized is that the time they took to simply read us a story at bedtime may have been one of the greatest gifts they could have given us.

The National Literacy Trust, an independent charity based in London, England, that promotes literacy, published an international review of the literature looking at the impact of fathers’ involvement in their reading with their children. The key findings were:

  • fathers’ reading habits can have substantial influence on their children’s ability to read, their levels of interest and their reading choices
  • lack of male role models in reading and other literacy-related activities during children’s early years may help to explain boys’ underperformance in literacy compared to girls’
  • while mothers and fathers generally communicate with their children in similar ways, fathers tend to use more challenging vocabulary such as abstract words

There are many reasons fathers should read aloud to their small children. Reading to kids helps them with speech development and expands their vocabulary. It helps them understand grammar and correct sentence structure. Fathers can also help build a lifelong interest in reading, help their children become better readers and perform better in school. They can help increase their child’s attention span, develop their listening skills, and ignite their curiosity, creativity and imagination.

But maybe the best reason for fathers to read out loud to children is the bond they’ll create as they share time together. Recent studies have suggested that children whose fathers are actively involved with them from birth are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in exploring their surroundings, have better social connections with peers as they grow older, are less likely to get in trouble at home and at school, and are less likely to use drugs and alcohol. Children with fathers who are nurturing, involved, and playful also turn out to have higher IQs.

Here is a suggested reading list for fathers to read with their children:

  1. Daddy’s Hugs by Karen Katz
  2. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  3. Because Your Daddy Loves You by Andrew Clements
  4. Daddy Kisses by Anne Gutman
  5. Daddy’s Girl by Garrison Keillor
  6. Me and My Dad by Allison Ritchie
  7. I Love My Daddy Because by Laurel Porter-Gaylord
  8. The Ten Best Things About My Dad by Christine Loomis
  9. My Dad is a Superhero by Lily Lexington

Sources: Trelease, Jim. The Read-Aloud Handbook, 2006-2007 ed. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. "Reading Aloud to Kids: The 12 Benefits of Reading Books Out Loud to Children of All Ages." SixWise.com n.p, n.d. Web 17 Jun. 2012. “The Importance of Father-Child Bonding.” KiasuParents.com n.p., n.d. Web 17 Jun. 2012.