17 July 2009

Read To Me Daddy

I rarely read the stories during our bedtime ritual. Almost every night, Isaac can choose five stories, and almost every night Matt reads them. I am not sure how this came to be the routine, but I am comfortable with it. Isaac and I read together and I take him to the library regularly. He sees me reading almost daily, whether it' s the newspaper, a book or a magazine. I know that he is getting the message from me that reading is a good habit. But he is a boy and he needs to get that message from his daddy.

So bedtime reading, for the most part, has become Matt's domain. He also takes Isaac to the library and to book stores and he also reads every day. As Isaac grows up, having Matt read to him, I hope, will have a positive impact on his own reading habits. Matt will have an advantage over me when it comes to helping Isaac find books that excite him simply because he is a guy.

It is a fact that most teachers and librarians are women. And, while fathers play a much more active role in parenting that in the past, mothers are still the central figure in most boys' lives. Historically, the people who have encouraged and pushed boys to read have been women. Boys need to have male role models who read. They need to have their father-figures share favorite books and introduce them to new characters. They need to be able to share their favorite books with other boys.

Mentoring boy readers has been a hot topic lately. A popular children's author, who himself is a favorite of many boys, started a website called Guys Read to offer help in addressing the concern that boys are not reading. The website offers suggestions for adults who want to encourage boys' reading habits and the author's perspective on why boys don't read. But what is really helpful are the lists of books and authors. It is a great starting place when looking for the next book to entice your boy.

Now, the moms reading this should not stop sharing books with their sons. And if there are dads reading who are already modeling for their boys this important habit, great! But look at your routines -- Do you read with your son each day? Who reads, mom or dad or both? Does your son see you reading almost every day? How can you make the message that your son is getting about reading more positive?

Isaac and I will be visiting family in Florida for two weeks and Matt will not be there to read the bedtime stories. I think I can manage without him, but I am sure Isaac will be glad when we return and he gets Daddy back at bedtime. And I think Matt will be glad, too.

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