Reading with Daddy

I was reminded of Book Trust’s Get Dads Reading campaign this week, which started last year after research was published that states only 13% of dads spend time reading to their child. Many of them cited long hours at work but there was also some concern around the culture of reading, and that it had become feminised – more women read than men, to a ratio of 70:30.

This isn’t a problem in this house of course. S reads a lot and a much wider range of books than I do. And I read. And between us we’ve ensured that E so far adores books and reading. Obviously we try to do other things with her too but there have been a few occasions where we’ve found ourselves watching CBeebies and she’s in the dining room getting a book.

What I have noticed over the last two years though, is how S has changed in his reading style. When we started reading to E she couldn’t hold her head up and we got through most of Roald Dahl’s books easily. And then she started looking at picture books and he read in a monotone – it sounded terrible. I do all the voices, shrieks and the like but I always assumed that was because I was more (melo)dramatic. S is a reserved man.

These days, there’s an obvious difference in how he reads. He still doesn’t do a range of voices but he does sing a little, and puts more effort into the storytelling. In this, it’s like E has taught him how to read – out loud.

It’s E’s birthday this weekend. We’ve bought her books as a gift. I really have no idea what else to get her. We’ve got some clothes too. But otherwise it’s books all the way. I’m a real sucker for buying them for her. And I never see it as a waste of money or an extravagance. E is never happy than when reading.

On a related note, Stephen Fry tweeted a link to a children’s book that a mother had written in pdf format to give away to parents for free. The poem in her book helps children explore feelings and bad times. Within three minutes of his tweet the site had crashed but it should be fine to download now. Here’s the link – The Happy Book.

I am reading: Just finished reading Some Kind of Fairytale by Graham Joyce. I’m not sure how to describe this one. Some might call it magic realism but I’d shy away from that term myself – for one thing, apart from the fairies, it seems grounded in reality. It doesn’t have the slightly odd one-step-removed quality of magic realism. The plot involved the reappearance of one family’s lost daughter – missing without trace for 20 years. It transpires that she thinks she’s been away with the fairies – crossed to the other side where time stands still. She thought she’d been gone for 6 months. Fairyland, it turns out, is somewhere around the Charnwood forest and is full of people who are artistic scholars, musical and who shag each other a lot. And lakes have orgasms. It seemed an odd set of details to remember but there you go. Anyway, the point of the book is to work out if she’s bonkers or if fairies really exist. I confess, I got so far and nearly gave up, thinking, Oh for god’s sake! But I’m glad I persevered.

E is reading: Stick Man – Julia Donaldson. E is very into Julia Donaldson books and we got this out of the library. Stick man goes for a jog and gets picked up by a dog, and from there on he is used by many different people and animals and he gets further and further away from home. Months pass and he’s further and further away and then he gets put in a fire. Will he wake up before it’s too late? The whole book rhymes which always makes me wonder – do they think of scenarios and then think of rhymes or think of rhymes and shoehorn them into a story? Anyway, it ends well, though with a rather unseasonal appearance by Santa.

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