Bonding with your kids through reading
MANILA, Philippines - “This is Téa's and my special bonding time,” says Roman of his reading time with his 2-year-old daughter. “She's going to have to force me to stop reading to her. I'm guessing around the time she'll be in college.”
More and more, fathers are taking an active role in their children’s upbringing. It’s the generation of hands-on parenting.
Reading dads boost children’s well-being
Family meals, sports activities and vacation trips mark the many ways parents spend happy times with their children. But do we consider the quieter ways too?
Reading, educators and experts observe, is often overlooked, especially when it comes to the father’s participation. In fact, the organization Booktrust, from UK’s Institute of Education, launched a campaign this year to get dads reading to their children after learning that, in most families, the moms are the ones who do much of the reading.
In a news report, Booktrust shares “many fathers see reading as a female domain, and are working in isolation, rather than sharing practices and drawing on the networks available to mothers. When they do read to their children, fathers favour their daughters over their sons, reading to them for longer, and more often.”
A supporter of the campaign, author Jim Patterson, says, “The fact that dad is involved and dad is a model for this, that will have an effect on the kid believing that reading is important. In other words, the father approves, the father is with the program. That’s a powerful message to send to your children.”
Daddy-fy reading time
This is not to say that dads, in general, do not enjoy or try to read to their kids. But those who have started the practice relish the experience.
There are many instances when dad’s work hours do take time away from home, and mom picks up the regular reading duties. Still, the effort to create reading time between father and child should not be disregarded.
School directress Tina Zamora, of Nest School for Whole Child Development, explains, “Having daddy read stories to the kids sends a powerful message that daddy and mommy can have similar or switchable roles and both can be approached for 'motherly' duties such as storytelling. For generations, fathers have normally been viewed as distant and only fulfill the role of provider. Having him read to the kids breaks this distance and creates a great bonding time with the children.”
Daddy Vin is one busy dad like many, and admits that his wife Kris reads to their toddler Andres daily, while he probably does it half the time, specifically when he gets home from work. He does note that the time spent for “bonding, laughing, doing pretend voices and making faces and acting [is] fun! And it's amazing when kids react to books.”
Switch things up
It’s interesting to observe how kids do end up modeling dad’s behavior. Vin’s eldest, 12-year-old Kaio, has turned into an avid reader and a doting kuya: he also reads to his brother Andres.
Dad Clint says that reading to his kids allows them to learn together. “I enjoy their questions,” he says.
He also shares that reading is not a one-sided affair. Though his schedule prohibits him from reading to the kids everyday, he makes their time together stand out by “putting in more expressions like I was reading for a TV audience, so my son learns to read with expressions.”
And his kids do pick it up. In fact, Emilio (6) and Lucia (5) read to him too. “At first they asked me to read a paragraph, then they read the next. Now, they do most of the reading. I correct their pronunciation or show them how to read it with more expression.”
Moms appreciate these moments as well. Angie relishes a time when husband Jan, normally a quiet guy, read to their baby, Alon. “I love how Jan livens up when he reads to Alon. I can see the bonding they have, with Alon laughing at Jan's silly expressions and Jan enjoying Alon's delight.”
Go beyond the books
The experience of literature is not limited to words on the page. More than anything, it is a portal to sharing, exploring, and discovering both new worlds and each other’s ideas and opinions.
Take the time to make reading a personalized process. Make this your own family’s tradition: whether books become the companion to a favorite sport, the complement to a family history, or even the springboard to creating original stories together.
As your children grow, so will your relationship with them — as well as your interaction with each other and the books you engage with. Allow reading to grow with you; it can be the connection that they can count on with fondness for a long time. - Rappler.com
Father and son reading book together photo from Shutterstock