Submitted by Kelli M

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My Husband Lacked Read Aloud Skills

When I read aloud, I am expressive and animated – silly voices, sound effects and acting things out. So, when our first child was born 4 years ago I worried my husband was too boring when, and if, he would ever read to her. He didn’t seem to bring stories to life at all and was never terribly enthusiastic about reading time. In fact, once coerced to do the reading, the only thing that seemed good about how he approached the activity was that he would certainly put her right to sleep. I would press him to liven it up and be more engaging. After all, an important part of our job as parents is to instill a love of reading in our children, right? Clearly, we needed to demonstrate an enthusiasm and love for reading in order to accomplish that goal.

I Needed to Back Off

However, my coaching did nothing toward helping my husband with what I considered his lackluster efforts, and it certainly didn’t make him want to read with our daughter more often. If anything, it made him resist doing it at all. So yes, I wised up quickly and backed way off. I appreciated the times he would make the effort, and I gave him the freedom to approach reading time however he felt most comfortable.

Over the Years

Over the years, I have watched my 4-year-old daughter and now my 2-year-old son look forward to reading time with their Daddy, and it warms my heart. So did my husband magically become a storyteller extraordinaire? Did he sufficiently pump up his enthusiasm, inspiring in our children visions of Caldecott Medals dancing in their heads as they drift off to sleep each night? Not exactly.

It’s About Love and Having Fun

What I finally recognized and embraced is that my husband and I both love to read with our children, but we love it for different reasons. I love to read, and so I love sharing that with them. It makes me happy to see joy brighten their eyes when I say, “Okay, just one more book and then it’s off to bed.”
My husband and many other dads out there read with their children not because they love to read but because they love their children and have fun spending time with them. It follows that perhaps said dads might read more with their children if the fun factor were increased a notch or two.
So, dads may not always be the best and most enthusiastic readers. However, modeling superb reading skills and being great storytellers is not really why we should want dads to read with their children. The best reason in the world for dads to read with their children is because they love them and because it’s fun. So, let’s help all those great dads who love their children find ways to make reading more fun for himself and the kids. After all, FUN is what reading should really be about, and dads are usually pretty good at having fun once they find it.

6 Things a Wife Can Do

So, here are some ways to make it more fun for the man of the house to happily belly up to the bookcase:

  1. Take the pressure off and let reading time just be about fun.
  2. Welcome unconventional “Dad only” reading materials such as the sports section, comic books, or your child’s favorite website.
  3. Give Dad a reading sabbatical and instead plan a Dad-sponsored trip to the library.
  4. Remind him reading is about more than just words on the pages of a book – there are cereal boxes, street signs, DVD covers, instruction sheets for their favorite toys, and more.
  5. Encourage Dad to skip the books now and then and just spend time making up silly stories with the kiddos.
  6. Suggest that he turn the tables and invite the little ones to “read” their favorite books to him – doesn’t matter if they can actually read or not.

Question for You:

What tips do you have for dads?

#1

Mike McQueen

Location: Colorado, USA

Positions: Parent, Classroom Teacher, Librarian


I loved your 6 Tips! We husbands often need reminders, inculding me (and I’m a librarian for heavens sake).  I love how you encourage dads to have fun and be silly. I think that this is very important.


 

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#2

Mike McQueen

Location: Colorado, USA

Positions: Parent, Classroom Teacher, Librarian


I forgot to answer your question…One tip I suggest (for new read alouds dads) is to pick SHORT books. A shorter experience  makes it less stressful because you know the end is not too far off. When I first started read to my child, it was hard for me and I was even a teacher at the time! With time I got better and more confident, eventually choosing longer stories. Just like your husband, Kelli, I grew to LOVE story time! It’s a fond memory that I will cherish forever. Thanks for the great post.

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