football, meat pies...
Don’t Read aloud?
No bedtime stories?
Just not you?
Don’t fret, if you’re a dad who doesn’t want to curl up with a good novel there is still something you can do.
There seems to have been a good deal published recently on the impact of male role models on reading habits. The basic gist of much of the research seems to be that men don’t read, or at least their children don’t think they do. As such they feel that reading isn’t very important. We here at your library know that men do read, we know this because we see them coming into our library. The basic stereotype of the male reader is that he reads the paper and he reads for his hobbies. So we are looking at fishing, hunting and driving the four-wheel drive over deer, umm perhaps not? So what does the male role model do? He reads after the kids are in bed, he reads annual reports, form guides, policy documents from work. In today’s society there are very few people who don’t need to read as part of their job. Kids may not get this concept because their way of thinking is basically “If I don’t see it, it isn’t real” so no matter how often good old dad tells them how important reading is, they only know how often they see him with his nose in the written word.
So how do you convince a 10 year old or a 14 year old that dad reads? There are easy ways, take him to the football with you and buy him a programme, spend some time looking at who is who on the field, bring a pen to write out the game stats. Who scored, how many tries, goals, chukkas, ends etc. Write in the changes to the starting line up and keep referring to the book to see who is who on the field. Your library will have a good number of biographies of famous footballers, plus a lot of rule books and training guides for all the codes.
Football not your thing? Then perhaps try doing your budget or tax forms while he is doing his homework. Do you need some extra paperwork from the tax man? Let the kids see you download it from the net, guide them through what you are doing.
You can use the same techniques for repairing the car, go to a library and look at the manual. Photocopy the pages you need and talk the kids through the steps involved. Show them how the text and the pictures work together to explain what needs to be done and be willing to take a little longer each step of the way for all the questions.
Whatever your hobby, or their sport; from bushwalking to folding paper planes, you can find a book or two in your local library that will tie into the theme.
Remember Boys don’t have many male role models for literacy. The majority of adults involved in reading are women, librarians, English teacher etc. As such boys don’t see reading as a man’s activity. So, don’t get too fussed with ‘good books’. For example, if you want your son to read, don’t start leaving Moby Dick or Wuthering Heights laying around the house. He Won’t Be Fooled! Be seen reading anything, and be seen enjoying it. Most of the books that boys get given at school will be books they’d much rather not read. I don’t want to badmouth Shakespeare but to enjoy his works you already need to enjoy reading. Non-fiction reading is still reading; magazines, newspapers, websites, biographies, science books, comic books, graphic novels are all reading material.
All this reading you’re going to be doing isn’t just going to affect boys, it will do great things for girls too. Girls will realise that their enjoyment of reading doesn’t preclude them from a career as an engineer. Just because they enjoyed Henry IV (part one) doesn’t mean they have to be English teachers (or librarians).
Don’t disregard one other important ‘side effect’. You may even discover that all this reading malarky has its up side and you could find yourself enjoying it.