Why should dads read to their young children? Because research has shown that it’s incredibly beneficial! Today’s podcast episode focuses on why dads can make such great reading partners for their kids. You can listen to this episode above, listen to it on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcript below. Mums see it as an educational imperative In a study comparing how children’s reading is affected when read to by mums versus dads, Dr Elisabeth Duursma found a strong gender pattern. Mums put more pressure on themselves as parents, they see it more as a job, and they see themselves in competition with other mums. So when mums are reading with their kids they’re approaching it as a teaching exercise, which some call competitive parenting. Dads are chilled and chatty Dads on the other hand are lying on the floor with their kids, and if the kid doesn’t want to read they just let it go. Language development According to research fathers, in general, use a broader vocabulary than mothers do during story time with their kids. They use the story as a springboard for imaginative discussions, which in turn encourages their child’s language development. Abstract thinking They also tend to use the story as a springboard to chat about everyday experiences rather than staying focused mostly on the story as mums tend to do. For eg, if there are butterflies in the picture, mum might ask how many there are or what colour they are, but a dad might ask a child if they remember chasing a butterfly in the park the week before and what happened. This kind of abstract question gives a child’s brain a greater challenge. And apparently the benefits for a) little girls and b) low income families, are particularly notable. Good for blood pressure! And the benefit isn’t just for the kids, reading at the end of the day is a great stress reducer. Apparently within 6 minutes muscles relax and the heart rate drops – sounds like a good alternative to blood pressure medication to me!