Thursday, June 4, 2009

Letter to the Book Chook - Dad Won't Read Aloud

Dear Book Chook,

I like your blog. I like your ideas for kids to do writing and reading. I read where you say about how fathers should read with kids too. I told my husband he should read our son's bedtime story but he won't. How can I make him be a good model too?


Dear Worried,

Sometimes I think the "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" people have it right! Men and women often look at situations from different perspectives, and it can be tricky to understand each other. Let's consider some of the things that could be involved here.

When we model behaviour to our kids, we let them see us doing something. In your husband's case, if he's reading something like the newspaper or a magazine on a regular basis, and your son sees him doing that, then he's showing your son that reading is important to him. He actually is being a good model!

But it seems to me you'd like your husband to read aloud to your son, too. Some people just aren't comfortable reading a story aloud. But that doesn't mean they won't be comfortable sharing some other reading-related activities.

We mothers are busy people. Without meaning to, we can send out the signal to our families that there is only one way to do something. (I rediscovered this recently when it was revealed to me that there are two ways of hanging out our washing: the Book Chook way and the Wrong way!) Why not discuss your problem with your husband? Perhaps he'll suggest an alternative to bedtime stories, or he might be comfortable with one of the ideas below.

Could it be the timing your husband isn't keen on? Does your son's bedtime come at the end of long hard day's work when all Dad wants to do is veg out for a while? Maybe your husband might like to read aloud some other time? A father who's a morning person might prefer to read aloud at the breakfast table, or on the weekends.

Some men aren't comfortable with sharing a storybook with children. Is there something your husband does read that he'll share instead? If your husband likes to flick through a sports magazine, maybe your son could sit with him and they can talk about the pictures. You didn't say how old your son is, but especially when we want little ones to start winding down before sleep, cuddling with dad under a not-so-bright light, and talking softly about what's in today's newspaper can be worthwhile. Dad might like to read aloud from the Stock report. Okay, probably Junior won't understand a word, but he will absorb the rhythms and cadences of our language, and he will experience the enormous pleasure of having Dad to himself while sharing reading.

If Dad would like to be involved, but feels awkward plunging in to reading aloud, what about easing him in? Your family could set aside a definite time to be together. You could snuggle together somewhere and listen while Mum reads aloud. If Dad wants to take a more active role, he could ask questions about the pictures after the story is over. "Who's this, Turtle or Elephant?" "Fox in socks or Fox in box?" "Can you show me the biggest truck of all?" etc. If it's not quiet-before-bedtime, making up silly games about books is such a lot of fun, and really a wonderful help to beginning readers. Dad could pretend to read a well-known story, but deliberately change it, allowing your son to put him right. Most dads I know excel at boisterous play - there's no reason not to link that to reading. Sharing a story can be a great noisy pursuit too!

Worried, I'm so glad you enjoy my ideas about reading and writing with kids. Thanks for your letter, and I hope my ideas will give you some food for thought.

Yours sincerely,
The Book Chook

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails