A study at Harvard University in the US into the effect on infants language after a year of hearing stories read by their parents found that girls seemed to benefit particularly from being read to by a male. Elisabeth Duursma, who carried out the research, said: The impact is huge, particularly if dads start reading to kids under the age of two. Do you remember when I had that ladder on my truck? That is great for childrens language development because they have to use their brains more.
Fathers should make a special effort to tuck their children in at night, according to research which shows that bedtime stories are better for youngsters when they are read by men.
Elisabeth Duursma, who carried out the research, said: ‘The impact is huge, particularly if dads start reading to kids under the age of two.
‘Reading is seen as a female activity and kids seem to be more tuned in when their dad reads to them – it’s special.’
Men and women also approach the task differently, she found.
Mothers tended to ask ‘teacher-like’, factual questions, such as ‘How many apples do you see?’
Fathers favoured more abstract questions, which sparked imaginative discussions.
British research found one in four parents of young children admitted to never reading to them
Dr Duursma, now based at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, who will present her work at an international conference later this week, said: ‘Dads were more likely to say something like: “Oh, look, a ladder. Do you remember when I had that ladder on my truck?”
‘That is great for children’s language development because they have to use their brains more. It’s more cognitively challenging.’
Parenting expert Justin Coulson added: ‘When we read to our children we expand their vocabulary. We help them to feel safe and this can have a profound impact on their capacity for learning.
‘Research has consistently shown that parents reading to children improves the quality of relationships, academic outcomes and resilience.’
Despite these benefits, British research found that one in four parents of young children never reads to them, or does so just once every six months.
Only half of parents said they read to their children every day.
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