One task every father should do

Dividing up responsibilities between mother and father when our kids are young can be a daunting task.

But it turns out that there’s one duty I, as a father, should always take on, according to science, no less: the bedtime story.

Kids who are read to by dad, according to a study by Harvard University researchers, have better-developed language skills than kids who were read to by mom. So, if families have a choice—meaning the father is in the picture and present in the household—dad should take on the nightly bedtime story.

Let’s face it. Most dads interact with their kids differently than mothers and those differences can be hugely beneficial—dads roughhousing with kids, for example, helps children sync physical action and mental concentration and helps them learn to regulate themselves.

So Dads, let’s read to our kids!

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Lessen the exposure to TV

Too much TV can have a profoundly negative effect on your children’s developing minds, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their findings show that higher levels of television viewing correlate with lower levels of academic performance; that the nature of TV stimulus may predispose some children to attention problems; and that mindless television shows may slow the development of the areas of the brain responsible for self control, moral judgment and attention.

This means that too much TV can cause physical changes in your kid’s brain!  And this should worry any caring parent. So if your children are watching too much television, turn it off.  Hand them a book, and by doing so, you will turn on their minds.

What are your kids reading?

How about a book that will encourage and inspire them to pursue their dreams? When head coach Tony Dungy was a boy, his father encouraged him to dream, and dream big. In his children’s book, You Can Do It! , Dungy tells the story of what happens when a little boy finds the faith to follow his dream. So find out what your child is dreaming about, and when your child discovers something that lights a fire in their spirit, help them to pursue it and become their biggest fan. Better yet – read it with them!

How much does your family read?

Only 57 percent of Americans say they read a book of any sort in the past year, down from 61 percent in 1992. And a recent U.S. Department of Education study found 1 in 7 adults cannot read at all.

We are quickly becoming an illiterate and alliterate (one that can read but chooses not to) country and we’re decaying spiritually because of it. You might have to turn off the TV and unplug the video games, but reinforce to your children the power of reading. It enlarges their souls and sharpens their minds.

The best way to do this?  Become a dedicated reader yourself, if you’re not already.

Encouraging reading

If your kids are past the “read to me” stage, you’ll need to try a different approach. One way is to set “minute milestones.” Set up a chart and have your kids record how many minutes they read each day – you might want to set a 10-minute daily minimum. This is reading done outside of homework.  Then, each time they hit the 100-minute mark – do something special for them.  You can also apply this approach by keeping track of the number of books they read. Set a goal and a deadline. Agree on a reward for reaching the mark, and let the doorways of imagination swing open for your children.

It’s still cool to read with your kids

How about reading with your adolescent? No, they might not be so cool with a bedtime story. But ask your teen to pick a book or magazine on his or her favorite topic for you both to read separately, then discuss its contents over a meal. You might find yourself becoming very well-versed in the latest skateboarding vernacular. Or lost in some exciting Western novel.

Whatever the case, even if you’re not enthralled with the subject, you will be sending two vital messages to your kids – the importance of reading and the importance of your child’s interests to you.

Helping your children to be wealthy

One sociologist, looking over 8,000 years of human history, writes that the measure of wealth is the ability to own a book and be able to read it. Literacy is the ultimate luxury. And yet, in that regard, our country is becoming poorer and poorer.

Instill a love of reading into your children by reading books with them and discussing them as you go along. This could include novels they’re reading in school or supplementary reading. Make your children truly rich in spirit – read with them.