Yes, it’s true! Story time really is better when daddy is reading the book. Senior Lecturer, Elisabeth Duursma from the Early Start Research Institute at University of Wollongong found that children experience multiple benefits when they are read to by their fathers.
Dads use a wider variety of vocabulary words and engage children in more imaginative discussions according to the research. Dads also have a way of making sure the story provokes meaning for the child. For example, if reading a book about airplanes, moms tend to focus on the factual details. She may point out the color of the airplane, the sounds that the airplane makes, and other notable features. However, when dads read, they link the story to everyday experiences. Instead of focusing solely on the color and sound of the airplane, dads may relate the book to a recent airplane ride the child experienced with mom and dad over the weekend. He may ask, “Do you remember when we flew on the airplane? How did you like the airplane ride? What was your favorite part of the flight?” These questions spark a cognitive challenge. It requires them to tap back into the experience, making their brains work even harder.
In Duursma’s study, “42 percent of mothers, compared to 29 percent of fathers read daily to their babies. Fathers did read more frequently to older children but even when children were five, 60 percent of fathers compared to 75 percent of mothers read to their children daily.”
When dads enjoy reading, they send out positive messages that reading is enjoyable, and kids naturally want to imitate what we, as parents, enjoy! Duursma’s research also found that when 500 low-income fathers in the United States read often to their children at a young age, “it had an impact on their language development one year later and their literacy development two years later.” Sharing a book promotes children’s language, literacy and cognitive development and builds relationships. It also helps fine motor skills.
The benefits of fathers reading to their children are extensive. The Fatherhood Institute found that children whose dads read to them regularly displayed better behavior and concentration, and performed better at math too! The physical effect that reading has on fathers is amazing as well. Research out of the University of Sussex suggests that within six minutes of turning pages, fathers experienced relaxed muscle tension and decreased heart rate. Sounds like a perfect blood pressure medicine to me!
The moral of the story is, you’re important dad! Kids learn so much from you and when it comes to reading, children seem to learn MORE from you than from mom. So read on my brothers, read on!