Dads + Reading = Success for Kids

For once, fathers should forget tech — and think about modeling a key way to learn and a great joy of life

by Benjamin Kain | 24 Oct 2016 at 5:33 AM

Reading in the modern world has become something of a rarity. With mobile entertainment on demand, most people are seen with their heads down as they stare into screens — rather than an actual published book. It’s easy for us in a fast-paced world to consume information that is served to us in a convenient and stimulating way — and this is certainly true when it comes to tired parents at the end of a long day.

Although it is easy for a stressed-out working parent to put on “Sesame Street” or “Paw Patrol” in order to get some much-needed down time or to take care of tasks around the house, there are tremendous benefits of reading to children — and incorporating reading into their daily routines.

Recent recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) set guidelines for the appropriate amount of "screen time" for children depending on their ages. The guidelines set forth that children under 18 months of age should not be exposed to any screen time, while children ages two to five years old should be limited to just one hour per day of screen time.

Adhering to the guidelines set by the AAP is a daunting task for most parents — maybe even unrealistic today. But it's imperative for parents to at least try to implement reading into children's routines.

Particularly noteworthy is the extraordinarily positive effects of fathers reading to their children on a consistent basis. A Harvard study released in December 2014 found that children actually benefited more when it was their dad reading to them then their mom.

Related: Reading is the Secret to Lifelong Health

The positive benefits of this range from language development to cognitive social skills. This can be attributed to the fact that dads tend to nurture their children's growing imaginations during story time. The research is compelling and has strengthened the calls for dads to get involved in this way with their kids.

Now is the perfect time to institute bedtime rituals with young children — including story time.

Dads can help turn their children into readers by leading by example. They can take their child to the public library and spend a big chunk of the day there — not just 15 minutes to grab a book, do a puzzle, and scoot out again. They can immerse their children in reading. They can look at books and pictures together (if the children are very young). They can choose books to borrow and take home. They can talk about what they're reading and why they like or dislike a story.

Related: For Dads, It's Nature AND Nurture

They can compare stories and writers — and really talk about what they're learning.

Dads should get lost in the stories with their children — rather than focusing only on television or the smartphone. This simple practice may pave the way to developing a meaningful and enriching father-child activity — and will be remembered by their kids forever. It will also help children grow at the same time.

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