Dad, Read to Me

When our firstborn was less than a year old, I decided to return to school to pursue graduate studies.  We had finished school for good (we thought) but now we were beginning again.  After moving 9 hours away to a new town and visiting several day care possibilities, we decided to live the Tupperware life.  That meant evening parties that might be in other towns nearby — and late nights.  Sarah was too young to endure that schedule and I had tons of reading to do.  We started a routine that lasted for a year or more; my wife did the Tupperware Party while I fed, bathed, and put the little one to bed.  When I was successful, I got lots of studying done.  When I wasn’t, there would be more homework the next day.


I found it was much easier to put a toddler into bed when you read for a while first. Around 8:00pm or so, we’d curl up together in the recliner and read a good book. Memorized pages prevented any skipping around and she always knew when we were near the end of the book. I still believe those evenings bonded us in ways we enjoyed for many years to come…and still remain some of our fondest times together.


School test scores and talk of the need for parent involvement has put such activity on the front burners of research today. We’re learning that dad’s attitude about education has a profound effect on his child’s success in school. We’re also learning that junior can read much better if dad takes the time to read aloud to him early and often. Amazing.


Take the time to read to them. It’s really important.  We have lots to do as fathers but one of our most important tasks is to encourage our child’s academic success. We can wait until it’s time to become the Report Card Police or use flimsy rewards for “A’s” when they appear OR we can program those good grades by spending the time up front developing the reading skill. Coaches could also seek to reward three point baskets without ever practicing them, too. That would work.


Don’t let your record spoil theirs. Some dads won’t read because they weren’t very good in school themselves. That’s the beauty of beginning early; the books are really easy! There will be subjects that our kids know more than we do soon enough.  Focus on helping them from the start. Evidently part of the key is hearing words in context properly pronounced.  Then they know what “sounds right.” It becomes second nature. By the time the harder books are needed, dad’s skills can be stronger, too.


Volunteer before you are asked.  Part of the success is found in developing a good attitude toward books and reading. When you say, “Let’s read a book” before they say, “Dad, read to me,” you help foster the good attitude they’ll need for years to come. And you’ll create some wonderful memories.

Dr. Matt Crain writes weekly for the Sunday newspaper from his Connecting Fathers and Families ministry.