Gendered Reading

image_2013-02-24_105019 (800x480)Perusing The Bookseller recently (searching in the vain hope that I may find a job I am qualified for) I stumbled across this article on Fathers reading to their children, or the lack there of.

Only one in eight fathers take the lead in reading to their children, according to a new report commissioned by reading charity Booktrust. […] The poll, carried out by Opinium, revealed that only 13% of fathers are the main reader, with a quarter of dads blaming working late for not having the time to read to their children.1

This surprised me, I have always associated bed time reading with the patriarch. In my head, even fathers who came in late from work would go upstairs read a chapter to their children before they sleep before pottering about with their evening; these are the memories I have of my dad reading to my sisters and I.

Further research, carried out with the Institute of Education, shows many fathers feel reading is a “female domain”, and that when they do read, they prefer to read to their daughters.2

It frustrates me that people gender tasks in public and private life; how is reading female? This incorrect assumption needs to be corrected and more fathers need to get into the habit of reading to their children. Re-reading the beginning of this blog even I have fallen into the ‘gendered’ trap and have gendered reading to children as male. Reading needs to be universally important; not a task for a particular type of person.

I give you a clip of the Princess Bride to illustrate how important it is to get a child’s imagination going with the power of books. This is a story passed down through generations; the kid thinks he’ll hate it, but even with the inevitable romance he still gets heroes and villains. By the end of the book he is ready for it to be read to him again; this is the power of literature!

Did your dad read to you as a child? Did either parent?

  1. The Bookseller []
  2. The Bookseller []

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2 Comments on "Gendered Reading"

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Charlie
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I don’t think my dad read as much to me as mum did, but then dad made up a lot of stories instead. And although it was mum who got me to read and took me to the library, it’s dad who actually reads whereas mum watches TV. I suppose the whole mother-is-carer is a big part of the assumption that mothers will read, though working late being a reason is understandable.

Kya
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It is rather crazy that reading or reading to a child should be gender based. It shouldn’t be about which gender is reading to a child, but that a child IS being read too. I often worry that many new families do not read to their children when it is so important. I loved to read from an early age, and it was my mother who read to me. Mainly because my father did not have any interest in reading. When I was able, I would read to him though, which was fun for him and good for me to… Read more »
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