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by Jim Trelease
• Chapter 9 excerpts — page 2 •
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This is a brief excerpt from
The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
(Penguin, 2013, 7th edition)

Now available as both a paperback and e-book.

See also Handbook FAQs.

Handbook cover 2013 edition




CHAPTER 9: Dad—What's the score? — continued

Pick up a book, Dad—not just a ball.

kids watching basketball gameNo shortage of good basketball players
but there is one for good readers, Dad.

"I"N short, the father who can find his way only to ball games with his kids is a “boy-man,” whereas the father who can find his way to a ball game and to the library or bookshelf can be called a “grown man.” Fathers need to understand that sports and school are not mutually exclusive. We can do both.

The strange thing about “reluctant reading daddies” is they’re found at all education levels. When poverty-level families and university-educated families were compared, fathers in both groups read to the children only 15 percent of the time, mothers 76 percent, and others 9 percent.9

That could change if we publicized studies like the one conducted in Modesto, California, which showed that (1) boys who were read to by their fathers scored significantly higher in reading achievement, and (2) when fathers read recreationally, their sons read more and scored higher than did boys whose fathers did little or no recreational reading. When the dads were surveyed, only 10 percent reported having fathers who read to them when they were children.10

So how do we get fathers more involved with reading and school? How about having them read this chapter? Not the whole book (unless they want to)—just this chapter. And maybe chapter ten, which is the shortest in the book and has information about how my father, some “secret stuff,” and a rich man’s sports magazine all motivated me so strongly to be a reader.

If Dad is lost as to what to read (since he might not have been a reader as a child), the list of books in the Treasury at the back of this volume will help. The books listed are more likely to hook the reluctant reader than create a future English professor. We have a glut of English professors, but a genuine shortage of male lifetime readers.

newspapers with pages from book Six MenDavid McKee's small picture book Six Men
pretty much explains what's covered in a day's newspaper, no matter the day or year.

If you’re a father who has never been much of a reader, change that pattern for the next generation in your family. Start with the picture books and work your way up to the novels, side by side with your kids.

Here are four picture books from the list: Captain Abdul’s Pirate School by Colin McNaughton, How FAST Is It? by Ben Hillman, The Secret Shortcut by Mark Teague, and Snip Snap! What’s That? by Mara Bergman.

Want something a little more challenging, something that will spark a conversation? There is a small picture book of thirty-six pages titled Six Men by David McKee, which begins very simply: “Once upon a time there were six men who traveled the world searching for a place where they could live and work in peace.” The rest of the book pretty much explains half the front page of any daily newspaper or evening’s newscast.

When you’re done reading those books, your first response will probably be, “Where were books like that when I was a kid?” Need to slip in some sports? On page 216 of the print and e-book edition of this book there’s a list of terrific sports picture books you never had as a kid. For older children, try the short novel Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner. Check out Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Dip anyplace into Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader for Kids Only!

You’ll be surprised at what you’ve been missing all these years. I’ll bet you missed David Lubar’s short story “Kid Appeal” in Guys Read: Funny Business, a humor collection for preadolescent boys. Here’s one paragraph:

There are lots of things that make someone a great best friend, like loyalty and courage. Dwight’s totally loyal. He’d never tell on me, no matter what I did. Even though he got six weeks of detention, Dwight never admitted he had help when he dumped twenty packs of cherry Kool-Aid into the school’s new fishpond. I swear we thought there weren’t any fish in it yet. I guess it’s a good thing only two of them were hiding in there at the time. They looked real pretty right before they turned belly up. It was sort of like a Dr. Seuss story. One fish, two fish. Red Fish, dead fish.11


Dad— when you read to a child you get a second chance in life: to meet and enjoy the books you missed out on as a kid. Who knows, you might even meet some of your childhood buddies along the way— like Dwight, above. Or look at it this way: Reading to your child is really just another form of coaching, except this one allows snuggling.

Chapter Nine — p.1   p.2   Footnotes


One of Jim Trelease's
brochures and posters is meant
for Dads

Part of this chapter's message about fathers and reading is found in one of Jim's free single-page brochures that can be downlaoded by nonprofit groups and schools.

Go to FREE BROCHURES. There is also a downloadable poster (right).

poster on the importancfe of dads reading to sons


Topics covered in Chapter 9 of print and e-book editions:

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