Fathers encouraged to read to their children
GROVE CITY -- A room full of fathers got the message Thursday that reading to their children can definitely be a guy thing. That message wasn't new to most of the 70 men, who sat cross-legged on the gym floor as children clambered into their laps...
GROVE CITY -- A room full of fathers got the message Thursday that reading to their children can definitely be a guy thing.
That message wasn't new to most of the 70 men, who sat cross-legged on the gym floor as children clambered into their laps during a group reading of the book "What Dads Can't Do," but it was a good message to hear while sitting next to a bunch of other guys.
Getting men together to hear about the value of reading to their children is part of the plan of the Fathers Reading Every Day, or FRED, program that was held at Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City High School.
Sponsored by the Minnesota Humanities Council, the nationwide program encourages men to be more involved with their children by reading to them.
"Deep down in your hearts, you know being involved is important. You don't need me to tell you that," said Tom Fitzpatrick, from the Minnesota Humanities Council.
"It's a simple program," he said, one that's not intended to be "anti-mom" but is meant to show dads that they play an important role in their children's lives.
About 90 percent of the time, moms attend school events, Fitzpatrick said.
Hosting a "dad centered" event that targets men creates a certain comfort level for them that makes it easy to relay the message that dads also need to be involved and that reading to kids can increase their child's self-esteem, curiosity and language skills.
The program could have been called "families reading every day," said Fitzpatrick, but more than likely there would've been more moms than dads in attendance.
On Thursday the dads and their children shared a meal and dramatic book readings with sound effects led by Sally Belgum-Blad from ACGC's Early Childhood Family Education Program. Belgum-Blad organized the local event in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Council.
During a separation time, the kids performed activities in the gym that got them revved up about reading "anytime and anywhere" and about going to their local libraries.
During a short session with Fitzpatrick in the cafeteria, dads were encouraged to read or share stories at least 15 minutes a day with their children. The dads were given a simple log to fill out during the next three weeks to document their progress.
Each child was given two free books to take home to start the process.
Jeff Meyer said he already reads books to his children but thought the event was "really nice."
Ryan Lee of Atwater said he and his wife "do a good job of reading already" and knows he's giving his 4-year old daughter, Kaitlyn, a good start by reading to her. He attended the event to share the interaction of dads and children.
Mike Renne of Grove City said he reads to his children, but admits he probably doesn't do it enough.
"I know I don't do as much as I should," Renne said. He said he was going to try real hard to start reading to his children every day. "I'll try to," he said.
His son, Wyatt, 8, showed off the two free books he was taking home. It was obvious he was eager to have his dad make good on his promise.
Fitzpatrick said he was pleased with the large number of attendees. He conducts 40-60 events a year and the average attendance is 20-25 men. He said the ACGC program was the second largest he's ever been to.
The group will reconvene on March 15.