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Get Dads Reading Campaign launches as new research finds just 1 in 10 dads is the 'main reader' to his children. Your reaction and thoughts?

(80 Posts)
MylinhMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 27-Feb-13 10:16:14


Some of you may have spotted this news story on Friday, which announced a new Booktrust campaign to get more dads reading to their children. The Booktrust charity published a survey and found that only one in ten dads said they were their child's main reader; and that 43% of mums read to their child every day, compared with 26% of dads.

What are your family's after-school/bedtime reading patterns? Who is the main reader in your family, or do you share? And lastly what are your thoughts on the Booktrust campaign - MN mums and dads (<-- especially!), do you support the initiative?


ArbitraryUsername Wed 27-Feb-13 14:09:00

DH is one of the 90%, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't read to DS2 or that he isn't there while I'm reading bedtime stories. It's just that DS2 generally insists that I do the reading. This makes me the 'main reader'.

gazzalw Wed 27-Feb-13 14:11:11

This is an interesting one. I too work long hours and am often not home before DD's bedtime (DS is beyond bedtime stories now) so not able to read every evening. However, DD does love me to read to her so I often get chosen over DW if I'm on a day off or at the weekends. Not always though. I would guess on average I read to her twice a week, usually at the weekends.

DD certainly is more receptive do doing her reading practice with me than with her Mummy (not sure why).

I think one of the major issues with bedtime reading by Dads is the type of books to read. I'm afraid I am not really going to be inspired to reading her very girl gender-stereotypical books (nor would she want me to) so we've read The Hobbit and I'm currently reading The Time Machine to've got to find something that you are happy and comfortable to read and the child(ren) is happy to listen to.

DD is good at reading but still loves a picture book at bedtime so we tend to have some of those (and some such as the recent Richard Curtis twins one is just about the right level for her) and then a much more grown up book too. It's not always easy to predict what she will enjoy and not.

Yes, I'm all for it in theory but think the Dads have got to be up for it rather than coerced into it!

WowOoo Wed 27-Feb-13 14:12:19

Both dh and i read regularly to our children. Dh is often home late also so he makes up for it on weekends.

So, I'd say i was the main reader.
I think I also expose the dc to books they might otherwise overlook if they chose it themselves. I supply most of the books too.

If dc ask 'can you read this?' I'd say yes, whereas Dh will say he will do it later if it's not something he's interested in and if he's tired. He admits this and that sometimes he doesn't have the energy to be all enthusiastic about a book.

He reads differently to me. Not nec better: I can't explain it simply, but I wish he would read more as the dc love it.

Itsjustafleshwound Wed 27-Feb-13 14:19:02

Does it really matter that the person reading to the child has a willy? Next, FASCINATING result is going to come out that men spend more time with their boys at football than the women of the house ....

It isn't worthy of a campaign .... In our house dad just has a better knack for fixing bikes and playing board games and I do the bedtime reading because he isn't back in time and I enjoy reading to my children.

Skyebluesapphire Wed 27-Feb-13 14:25:18

Well its just me on my own since XH walked out. I look at DD's school books with her every night and we read them and I read her a bedtime story too.

I send her bookbag to XH's when she goes there EOW and he rarely looks at them with her. I have asked him to, as I told him that she needs to read every day and that the school said that it is good if dad's get involved.

But as with everything else with XH, if it doesn't suit him, he won't do it. Thankfully DD is too young to see stuff like this in the news, otherwise it could just make her feel bad that her dad isn't there every day to read to her......

CheeseStrawWars Wed 27-Feb-13 14:46:44

The idea of a 'main reader' isn't helpful. Male role models who read are important, but I don't think this has to be a dad doing the "main" reading. Characters in TV programmes, in films, etc... how often are boy characters shown as "bookish" without being geeky/weak?

As an aside, I'm really irritated by the marketing of books at a main supermarket at the moment where there is a (pink) book of "Fairy Tales for Girls" and a (blue) "Fairy Tales for Boys". Who knew 3 Little Pigs was only suitable for one gender?

steppemum Wed 27-Feb-13 14:50:52

Technically I am main reader. But it is so much more complex.

They read to me before dh gets home (they read better at 4 pm than bedtime)
At the weekend they sometimes read out loud to him.
But he shares bedtime stories.

Complication is that my main language is English and dh Dutch. So dh is main reader in Dutch. Because English is not his first language, they prefer me to read out loud in English.

We realised that he was reading to them less and less, so we asked kids, they said they like the way mummy does different voices, so now dh is making a real effort to read aloud with different voices. Now they are happy to have him read them their stories.

We home schooled ds for 1.5 years when we were overseas and dh shared the home schooling.

insanityscratching Wed 27-Feb-13 14:59:30

I read to and with dd as I did the older ones. Dh never has done then again he never reads books for himself whereas I'm a bookworm and enjoy sharing books I read as a child. I'm not sure it matters who reads tbh so long as someone does. Of my five four are avid readers, not sure that dh reading to them would have altered that tbh.

ArbitraryUsername Wed 27-Feb-13 15:01:57

To which gender is the 3 little pigs appropriate then? I can't for the life of me work it out.

stealthsquiggle Wed 27-Feb-13 15:26:21

Pet peeve. DH will NOT read to the DC. If he is doing school runs, he will get DD to read to him (she does her reading in the 15 min wait between dropping DS off and dropping her off), no problem with that, but if I am away they just don't get bedtime stories at all sad. It's not that he doesn't read himself - he does. Just not out loud to the DC confused

stealthsquiggle Wed 27-Feb-13 15:28:14

CheeseStrawWars - DD keeps being given those "tales for girls..." compendiums. I hate them, TBH, and try to veto them persuade her to choose something else at bedtime.

Ilovexmastime Wed 27-Feb-13 15:57:53

I am the main reader in our house as my DH isn't a confident reader and the DC always want me to read to them.
When I was small though my dad was the
main reader, so I suppose it's just a case of whatever works best for your family.

shhhgobacktosleep Wed 27-Feb-13 16:12:30

In the past I have predominately been the main reader for our son as my husband was in the Royal Navy and deployed for 6+ months at a time. He is now in civvie street but often away from home and there is nothing that he and ds(7yrs) like better than face timing for bed time stories smile. They choose a selection of books together for dh to pack before he goes away and then we FaceTime daddy when ds is snuggled in bed and ready for his story. When both of us are at home ds tends to choose whose reading his story at night.

However, it is interesting that ds appears to choose very different types of books for us to read him. With dh he likes books that are a complete story and where daddy does different voices for each character grin With me he tends to choose chapter books (one chapter a night) where the picture is painted by the descriptive text rather than an actual illustration and we've just finished stig of the dump.

Ds has struggled with learning to read but has never been what I would term a reluctant reader as he has an absolute love of books and thankfully now is reading above his age. I believe a love of books and reading is what should be promoted and as long as someone close to the child is sharing that with them then it really doesn't matter who that person is.

Thisisaeuphemism Wed 27-Feb-13 16:38:45

Seems to me a non-issue...Maybe they just wanted to say 'read more to kids' but were looking for a different way to get that across.

I don't see why the sex of the reader is relevant. People do what works for them...I tend to read because DH is just home from work/knackered, but he sits and listens with DC.

Pozzled Wed 27-Feb-13 16:56:38

I am the 'main reader' here as well, but I agree with others that the concept is not helpful. In our household it has happened for two reasons- firstly because DH enjoys bathtime with the kids more than I do, so that's his 'bit' of the bedtime routine, and the story is my bit. Secondly because as a primary teacher I have naturally always been very proactive about reading, and love doing it. Can't pass a charity shop without buying at least two children's books.

However, my DDs also love stories with their dad and DH is more than happy to read to/with them. They are getting a very positive and thorough introduction to reading and books, and pretty much all the adults around them read for pleasure.

I think there are much more important things to focus on than who does the reading.

Indith Wed 27-Feb-13 17:01:42

Dh is probably the main reader in our house. My daddy was too smile

It varies. If the dcs want a book reading in the day they tend to ask dh. During the week I don't really get asked by dd yet she hounds dh all weekend for stories! In the evening we do bath, stories and sleep. It varies who reads them. Sometimes I do one with dd in her bed, one with ds1 in his bed as dh is out, sometimes we divide and conquer. Dd usually gets 2 shorter books, ds1 gets a couple of chapters of his book.

I too thinbk it should just be about reading. Reading for pleasure, reading as a family. I think the saddest part is that so many children do not get read to by either their mother or their father.

PandaG Wed 27-Feb-13 17:26:10

I don't read to my DC any more, at 11 and 13 they read themselves, and don't choose to be read to. HOwever I do discuss books they are reading, and DS in particular enjoys recommending books for me to read (I've just read several of the CHERUB books because I wanted to know what he was reading). We also (all 4 of us) regularly listen to audiobooks together in the car, which we all enjoy.

I was the main reader as I was at home full time, but DH regularly did the bedtime story when they were small, though generally read downstairs when they were really tiny as I did BF in the bedroom last thing. DC see me read more, as I am still at home more than DH, and I do read more in general, but they certainly see both of us reading when on holiday.

I'm a bit torn about this campaign, I think we should be promoting reading to children by whoever, it doesn't really matter, but, if we want to raise a nation of men who read for pleasure than I agree it is important for men to model this, for reading not to be seen as something that only women do.

HopeForTheBest Wed 27-Feb-13 17:30:12

My dh is not a reader, he never has been and I suspect that, at almost 42, he probably never will be. He reads about 1 book a year, and it will be non-fiction.

He does occasionally read to ds, if I'm out for the evening and he is doing bedtime then that will include the bedtime story. But he is not a natural reader iykwim, it is not a pleasure for him the way it is for me.

What he will, however, do is spend hours with ds fiddling around on the bikes or car, explaining how the different tools work, how to use them etc etc
They make or put things together, go shopping for the right equipment and so on.
This sort of thing bores me stupid, it wouldn't occur to me to show ds how to do any of that stuff.

So I don't think it's about getting dads per se to read - I do think someone should read to children, certainly until they can read by themselves, and beyond that it can be a great pleasure for both too, but only if they both enjoy it. Insisting that dads should read more seems not right to me.

PuffPants Wed 27-Feb-13 18:10:58

Maybe some fathers are out earning a living and can't get home for bedtime?

Just a thought. Books are not the be all and end all of parenthood you know.

stealthsquiggle Wed 27-Feb-13 18:13:16

PuffPants - not that I disagree with it not being the end of the world - but some mothers are out earning a living too!

COCKadoodledooo Wed 27-Feb-13 18:37:27

Dh reads to ds2 every night. Ds1 mostly considers himself too cool old to be read to, but if he ever deigns to he asks me.

MonsterBookOfTysons Wed 27-Feb-13 18:41:20

I guess I am technically the main reader, but only because dh works in the pub trade and 5 days a wek doesnt get home till gone 10pm.
He likes reading with the dc but often because they are used to me reading to them, they play him up and give him trouble.

PuffPants Wed 27-Feb-13 18:45:29

stealthsquiggle, the OP is about fathers not reading enough to their children. I gave a reason why that might be the case. The fact that mothers work too is irrelevant as they are not the ones being commented upon.

stealthsquiggle Wed 27-Feb-13 18:56:30

No - the question was about Fathers not being the majority readers to their DC. If both parents work FT, then there is no reason at all why working should impact who reads to the DC most (given that neither of them has lots of time at home with DC). Even FT working fathers get some time off, last time I checked.

missorinoco Wed 27-Feb-13 19:15:31

I find this quite irritating. My husband was initially the main reader; when my first child was a baby he was back from work in time for bath and bedtime including stories, so that was their time together. Now we have several children we split it, neither of us is the main reader.

But given that more women than men work at home, are stay at home parents or work part time, women are more likely to be the main reader.

I think it's the main reader part of it that gets me. Much more helpful if they suggested sharing time at the weekend, and highlighted an issue of little reading by Dads to children, rather than this main reader focus.

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