MPs launch campaign to raise awareness of the way reading together benefits fathers and their children
The apparently magic powers of dads are the focus of a new campaign by MPs to get men reading to their children.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fatherhood is calling on dads to try to get home from work in time to read with their kids at bedtime.
Writing ahead of Father’s Day the co-chairs of the APPG, Tory Steve Double and Labour’s David Lammy, said “Evidence shows that the impact of fathers reading to their children appears to be greater than mothers. However, research also shows that fathers are less likely to read to their children than mothers are, and that fathers read less to boys than to girls.”
Reading to children increases their literacy skills and vocabulary, improves their attentiveness in class and can boost their imagination and cultural horizons.
But it’s also good for dads. Lammy and Double explained, “Involving fathers in their children’s literacy development not only benefits children, but also fathers themselves; sharing a book promotes closeness and reading for fun, and alleviates the inevitable guilt of time-pressed carers.”
However even the busiest dads don’t need to miss out. Reading a story via Skype or FaceTime or even recording one in advance also have positive impacts. “Even fathers not able to be present at bedtime can be encouraged to connect with their children through digital means, or record bedtime stories in advance,” the MPs added.
The co-chairs state, “Ideas around fatherhood have changed. There are greater social expectations for fathers to spend time with their children, younger fathers have fewer traditional gender-role expectations, and an increasing number of fathers are primary care-givers. We celebrate fathers becoming more involved in their children’s upbringing than they were a few generations ago.
“That said, we know that personal, social and cultural barriers exist that continue to hinder a father’s involvement in their children’s upbringing. Policies such as shared parental leave and extensions to paternity leave have made modest advances in shifting cultural behaviour, but more work needs to be done.”