Learn more about the ways that a couple of dads are helping their kids become better readers in these interviews compiled by the National Institute for Literacy. The selections were originally published in Dad's Playbook: Coaching Kids to Read.
Cable TV technician
Father of three, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years old
I have three children and I read to them in English so they can learn more. At the same time I read to them, I also am learning better English myself. My father is illiterate and I taught myself how to read. I want my children to know how to read for themselves. I read the newspaper in English, and for my work, it's all in English. I'm a cable TV manager technician and I teach others how to fix cable TV.
I buy books for my children at a bookstore in Tijuana. If there's a book sale, I'll buy books at a store. I have been coming to the library (family literacy program) for three months. I pay attention to my children. It's most important to know who they are and what they like and don't like.
We practice writing out letters and I teach them the sounds of the letters. I'll sound out the letter and have them practice writing it out, while sounding it out themselves.
To get their interest, I sing songs with them first, like the ABC song and other word songs and songs in Spanish to motivate them to read. I sing it wrong and they correct me. I go into detail and explanation of letters and sounds to my children. I also do homework and math games with them. They ask me questions and I help them. If I don't understand a word myself, I'll look it up in the dictionary.
Construction worker; business owner
Father of three, 2 years, 3 years, and 7 years old
My older son likes me to read about soccer and my younger son likes books with dogs and other animals. I sometimes read a couple books at one time, one about soccer and one about animals--I read from one for a little while and explain about the animals and then I read from the other and explain the soccer. I set aside special time every day to be with my daughter to either help her with homework or read with her.
Their mother is very focused when she reads to them. She looks at pictures with the kids and explains all the details. I may explain a few details, but not like she does. My daughter reads like she has learned in school. She reads the whole book first, by herself. Then if she needs help understanding something or would like to talk about something we go back through page by page. She will read to me too.
When the boys don't understand a word, I will show them the object or a picture, and I will continue to ask them about it until they know what it is. I teach my kids words more in Spanish because it is easier for me. We have some books from Mexico that I use to help them learn the letters and Spanish words.
I have taught my children the names of the tools I use. I play music and have a band that practices in my house. The boys like to play the instruments and I try and teach them the lyrics to the songs.
I really enjoy the moment of being with my kids and helping them learn. We don't have that much time with our kids when they are young, so I just enjoy this time with them as much as I can.
Father of three, 3 years, 4 years, 9 years old
I taught myself how to read because my father is illiterate. I want a different outcome for my children.
I read every day at night with the children. I love to read and use it for myself. I think it's important for my children to learn more new words and to speak and read better. It's always fun to read with my children. I like to see how happy they get when I read something to them. My nine-year-old reads before bed and more and more I have to take the book away from her so she'll go to sleep. The younger ones still don't read on their own. But, they all love it and Sundays, if I don't want to read to them, they protest.
My children bring books home from school and we subscribe to a Book Club and get a new book every month. I want them to make a habit of reading to learn more, speak better, and become more involved in the community.
With my nine-year-old, I'll use her homework to learn new words. With the younger ones, we do ABCs and vowels at home. And we play Mexican bingo with letters, or the Concentration game to find the pairs. If they don't understand a word I'll give them examples with the word in it. If I'm out with them, I'll answer any questions.
I openly communicate with them. My children are confident of themselves. They are able to speak to others. I think parents should have an interest in what their children are reading and also to read for themselves to see how it does make a difference in their life.
Father of two, 5 years, 8 years old
We get books from the school library, the community library, and from book stores. My boss also gives me his children's old books. I usually read to my children two or three times a week. Usually at night before they go to bed. I enjoy reading together. There is nothing I don't enjoy about it.
My daughter loves books, story books. She gets so happy to hear the stories. She feels like she is part of the story. We have read the same books over and over again and she does not get tired of them. She reads like me. I stop a lot to explain things about the story to her and why things happen. Now that is the way she reads too.
My wife does not read English, but she will tell our children stories or will read books to them in Spanish. Most of the books we get are in English and I read those books to them. I try to get books in English to help them learn English better.
When we work in the garden, I have taught them the names of all the plants. They know corn, beans, and squash. And they know tomatoes because they don't like tomatoes. I help my son write phrases and practice his letters. I have gotten books for him that teach how to write letters and words, and we practice together.