The International Reading Association pointed me to this article that details the results of a recent poll conducted among 2,200 adults in the UK. Forty two percent of the fathers polled said they didn't read bedtime stories to their children, citing stress and long work hours as the number one reasons. Seventy six percent of mothers, on the other hand, say they DO read bedtime stories to their children. The article goes on to say that boys need male role models to read to them in order to get them to love reading.
Hmmmm....I'm not sure what I think about this. I know the intent of the study was probably to convince fathers to read to their children, but what about the households that don't have a male parent? I know plenty of mothers who read to their sons, who in turn, grow into avid readers. Without knowing enough about the study, it doesn't seem as if they interviewed families that fell outside of the "traditional" definition of family (mother/father/child(ren)).
There is no doubt about it that children should be read to, but does it matter which parent? Should both parents, whether it's mother/father, mother/mother, father/father, share the responsibility? I think that when children get read to from a variety of people, it exposes them to more books, but does it have to be a parent?
In my household, I do read to my daughter the most, but I think that's because I'm more likely to pick up a book and start reading than my husband who prefers to get on the floor and play with her. However, he does read to her, and I play with her. Her grandparents also read to her when they see her, and she gets read to every day in daycare. I also love to watch her being read to and to see the different approaches people use. For example, my mother-in-law will point at the pictures and make up her own story while I often read the text word for word. My husband will do a little of both, and Miss Mary, her daycare teacher tends to use more exaggerated body language and different voices.
But what if there is only one person who reads to a child? Does that mean that child is less likely to become a reader? I don't think so, and I don't think it has to be a parent. Sometimes it's a teacher, a neighbor, an aunt or uncle who opens up the door to reading.
What do you think? Who shares the biggest responsibility for reading to your children in your household?