The Good Father

One of my goals, if I became a father, was to be a good father.  We waited fourteen years to have kids (my wife says we had to wait for me to grow up – but had to quit waiting or we would never have had kids).

I didn’t really define what a good father was, except that I knew I had to somehow influence my kids to be readers.  At any rate, my wife and I committed to reading with our kids from the womb until they turned (about) 10.  Although we mixed it up a bit, for the most part I read with our son and she read with our daughter.

My son and I read every night.  There were times (when he was around 3-4) that he would say, “Dad, can we not read tonight?”  And my answer was always, “This is what we do.”  Well, I started my doctorate when he was about six and would work all day Friday as a principal, then drive about an hour and a half to grad school and attend classes.  I would get home on Friday nights at about 11:30pm and he would be waiting on the stairs with a book.  One Friday night I came home really tired and looked at my son and said, “Dude, I’m really tired.  Let’s not read tonight.”  His response?  You guessed it – “But dad, this is what we do.”

Here are some of our favorite books we read together during that time:

The Hardy Boys series (the whole set in one year), The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Space Trilogy, the Lemony Snicket series,  the Great Illustrated Books series, the Accidental Detectives series, and several individual books like Maniac McGee and Tuck Everlasting (these are the books and series that my son says hold special memories for him).

He decided he was ready to read on his own not too long after he turned 10 and started with the Star Wars series, then moved on to the Redwall series.  I miss reading together, but am thrilled that he has become such a voracious reader.  He has even written a couple of his own books – while he was 11.

I know there is more to being a good father than reading together, but I also hope this was at least a start.

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4 responses to “The Good Father

  1. My mother read to me much like you read to your son. When we didn’t read we recited nursery rhymes. She had four children and was very busy with a business when my baby sister was little, so she didn’t read to her much. My sister doesn’t much enjoy reading or writing so I definitely believe that there is a connection.

  2. Have you read Fathers and Sons? (A friend used to teach that in a course she titled “Russian novels whose titles contain the word ‘and'”. 🙂

    You would probably enjoy David Gilmour’s The Film Club. See this post. (Hope it’s not crass to link to my own blog.)

  3. One other thought: it’s worthwhile, I think, continuing to read aloud to your son—and have him read aloud to you. Charles Dickens is great for this. Try Oliver Twist. You can alternate chapters.

  4. Thanks Jen – I also believe in the connection.

    Thanks LeisureGuy (although from the number of books, posts, suggestions, and comments, I’m not sure about the Leisure part of your name). What a great idea – “Russian novels whose titles contain the word ‘and.'” Thanks also for the post and the reading tip. My TBR list has just grown.

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