“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
As I sat at my desk tapping away at the keyboard, my 2-year-old son, X, shoved a book in my face.
“Read Elmo,” he demanded.
I pushed the book away and continued typing. However, the little guy would not be denied.
“Read Elmo, now,” he said as he climbed on to my lap using himself as a barrier between my laptop and me. Realizing that I had no choice but to appease the toddler, I stepped away from the computer and carried X to the living room.
We settled on the couch and I began to read about Elmo’s adventures. This particular book has a built-in Elmo puppet. X’s face erupted with delight as I made Elmo dance and sing.
As I continued reading, I noticed that my two older children had gathered around the couch to listen to the story. Their presence surprised me because they are quite vocal about their disdain for Elmo. He’s way too babyish for their tastes. But there was something about listening to Daddy read a book that made Elmo okay for that moment.
If you’ve ever shared a book with a child, you know the joy and excitement this small but meaningful act can bring. But, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, since 1993 only 53 to 58 percent of children ages three to five received this joy on a daily basis.
We can do better! Children whose parents read to them develop stronger critical thinking skills and have a higher success rates in school.
My wife and I read books to the kids as often as we can. More importantly, we let our kids see us reading books. According to the National Education Association (NEA), one-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. That statistic shocked me. Books are so much a part of my life that I can’t fathom not reading a single book in the 20 years since I’ve been out of high school.
A Challenge to All Fathers
I encourage all dads to take the time to read to your children. I recently introduced my daughter, Nee, to one of my favorite childhood book series, “Encyclopedia Brown.” We like to read each story and figure out the mystery together. Not only does this time together allow us to grow closer, but it also allows me to relive the joy of my youth through her eyes.
My son, N, and I like to dress up like Captain Underpants and recreate scenes from that series. Although this activity is fun for us, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. A grown man wearing underpants and a towel around his neck is not a good look.
I’ll admit that I’m often distracted and neglect this important duty. But all it takes is a determined toddler with an Elmo book to help me regain my focus.
Question: How do you think reading to your kids will change in the age of the Kindle and iPad?