Let’s Get Dads Reading To Their Kids Campaign from Booktrust

The UK’s leading reading charity Booktrust launched the ‘Get Dads Reading’ campaign, challenging dads to match mums in reading with their children. Read on for more information… but first, have a watch of an introductory video by James Patterson.

UK dads trail far behind their partners when it comes to reading to their children. A new poll, carried out for Booktrust by Opinium, reveals that just 13% are the main reader with their child, with a quarter of fathers saying that the demand for them to work late means that they do not have time to read together more often.

These findings are a major concern as a father’s involvement in their child’s early reading is proven to boost academic success, leading to improved social and emotional wellbeing. To fight this crisis Booktrust is launching a major campaign to raise awareness of the importance of dads as reading role models for their children.

Further research, commissioned by Booktrust from the Institute of Education, sheds more light on this hidden crisis. A series of in-depth interviews reveals that 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.

Booktrust is calling on dads up and down the country to match mums’ efforts in reading with their children. To launch the campaign Booktrust’s patron, HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall and bestselling author James Patterson – 2010 Children’s Choice Book Award Author of the Year and founding partner of the Booktrust’s Children’s Reading Fund in association which his publisher Random House – will this afternoon visit a thriving dads reading group to see how dads and their children benefit from sharing books. At the moment, research shows that at formal literacy events for children, only 10% of the parents attending are dads.

The research carried out for Booktrust by Opinium surveyed 1,016 parents of children aged 0-11 – and also reveals that:

43% of mums read to their child everyday in comparison to just 26% of dads.

The top reasons dads give for not reading with their children more often are:

1. I get home from work too late (26%)
2. I feel too tired (22%)
3. I feel like I read to my child enough (19%)
4. I don’t have enough time (18%)
5. My partner likes to do the reading (12%)

37% of dads claimed to read to their child everyday – but only 19% of mums reported that this was the case.

Commenting on the research, Viv Bird, Booktrust Chief Executive, said:

‘The most crucial thing for dads to understand is that if kids see their dads reading they’re more likely to enjoy it themselves. There is evidence that boys are slipping further behind girls in reading – and this emphasises how important it is that dads are positive role models to their sons as well as their daughters when it comes to reading.’

James Patterson – who started writing for children in 2005 in order to encourage his son to read and has developed his own website, ReadKiddoRead, to help dads find books to read with their children – adds:

‘If we can get children reading and enjoying books, we open up a whole world of possibility to them. I believe that dads have a huge role to play in encouraging their children to read. We need to give fathers the support they need in reading to their children. If I can help dads to understand their role in making books and reading more important in children’s lives, I’ll be a happy man’

As part of the Booktrust campaign dads will have access to a whole range or resources and guidance about how to get the most out of reading with their children. A host of celebrity dads – Booktrust’s ‘Dads Army’ – including James Patterson and Dan Snow will lend their support to the campaign. See www.booktrust.org.uk and #dadsreading.

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