The Sweetest Stories Come from Dad

Bonding over bedtime stories for little language learners

Father’s Day has come and gone. This weekend little ones everywhere gifted hand-drawn cards and palm-print art to dear old dad. One day hardly seems enough for all dads do, so let’s keep the party going and talk about an important role dads play. 

Often dads get credit for grilling food, fixing things and scaring monsters in the closet — but did you know that fathers can play a critical role in a baby’s language learning and development?

We know that reading to children expands their vocabulary, but according to Harvard University, who does the reading can make a big difference!, They’ve found little ones benefit more when their fathers read their bedtime stories.

Kids have more imaginative discussions when dad does the reading, and the impact on a child’s language development is even greater when dad plays storyteller because of the way dads approach the task.

Before you start thinking that tired moms bribed the researchers to get them out of bedtime duty, take look at why dads bring so much to reading — and why they get a lot in a return.

Dads take the story off the page
While moms are more likely to focus on the characters’ facts and feelings, dads tend to connect the story with something that's relevant to the child. 

When reading The Three Little Pigs dad might say, “Remember the storm last night? The wind was crazy! Do you think it could have blown a house down?” That kind of conversation around a book requires more work on the child’s part and results in greater cognitive development.

Dads bond over books
Many dads find reading to be a great way to build a better father-child relationship. Curling up together with a good book has been shown to be one of the strongest forms of bonding. 

For some reason, reading can be seen as a female activity, so when dad reads the bedtime stories, it seems special and kids pay closer attention.

Dads model reading as recreation
Dads who can be seen reading around the house show their children that reading is an enjoyable thing to do. And it’s not just solo reading that dads find fun. 

The nightly wind-down routine of a book before bed can relax dad as much as it does the little ones. Studies have shown relaxed muscles and heart rate within six minutes of starting a story.

Dads reading results in better behaved kids
Research has linked the amount of time a dad spends reading with his child to everything from better literacy scores at school to improved math, better concentration and even better behavior in the classroom.

Even in families where there’s been trouble at home, dad’s influence has been shown to encourage kids to reach and continue their cognitive and educational progress.

Reading to your child who is deaf or hard of hearing is a great investment in their learning in literacy, no matter who the reader. But dads have something special to offer — giving us one more reason to be grateful for fathers everywhere!