What Role Can Father’s Play in Developing Their Children’s Literacy?

Hi Everyone,

My two kids and I bonded over books. Even before they were born, I read to them, even when it felt a bit weird reading to my wife’s distended midsection. I must have read Mulan to my daughter at least 100 times. Twenty years on, I still remember what Mulan’s father said to her: “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.” Though my kids are now 17 and 22, we still have family reading time every evening led by me, their dad. 

Fathers can play a huge role in the literacy development of their kids. When young boys see their father’s reading, they see reading as a masculine activity. Fathers tend to ask more abstract questions about books, which helps their kids expand their language skills, a critically important building block for reading comprehension development. 

Father’s Day is coming on June 18, so we celebrate dad’s roles in their child’s literacy development. We thank all the family literacy programs who work so hard to involve fathers. Thanks to all the dads out there who help their kids learn to love reading.

I would love to hear your comments about how your father influenced your love of books/reading or how your family literacy program involves dads. 

Thanks so much for your thoughts,

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group 



Thanks for posting this lovely reminder. As a mother, I often talk about the work that has been done showing the connection between a child and their mother's literacy. Admittedly, I sometimes forget that this is a parental impact and all parents and caregivers need the support and resources to attain literacy themselves and build literacy with their children. 

I do recall my dad reading to me but what I thought about when you asked your question were the times I would type my dad's papers. I loved typing class in middle and high school and at that time he was pursuing a degree (I witness lifelong learning firsthand through both of my parents - I'm thankful). He was still typing with one finger back then and I remember him dictating long essays to me and marveling at how fast I typed. That's a really fond memory for me. I got to be of service to him, listen to his interesting papers, do an activity I enjoyed, AND impress my dad all in one! Thank you for reminding me of it! I imagine in about 10 or so years your children will share similar stories with their colleagues :)

There are two images of my father that stick out the most when I think back to my childhood.  The first is of him ironing his crisp, white work uniform, and the other is of him sitting in a chair, ankles crossed, and rocking back and forth as he read from a book.  My dad read a lot of books, and my brothers and I are all avid readers; I am sure that is no coincidence.  Each day our parents split the newspaper over their morning coffee.  My mom had a collection of books in her room that she read before bed, but when you spotted her reading it was most often from a magazine or encyclopedia.  We had two full sets of encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses, and a wonderful collection of children's books.  

I think between the two of them our parents were great role models for literacy. I am super glad that my brothers had that example.