Reading is an essential activity that is linked to children’s cognitive development, academic skills, and future employment opportunities. Children often become interested in reading by watching and mimicking their parents or participating in child-parent reading routines. Although mothers have a big role to play, research shows that fathers are particularly influential for children’s language and literacy development, which means they are a promising point of intervention for efforts to improve children’s language and literacy. Reading together and engaging in other literacy activities, such as telling stories, are things that fatherhood programs can promote to help fathers model positive parenting and improve children’s developmental outcomes.
This brief summarizes what we know about how fathers positively contribute to their children’s language and literacy development, offers tips for how programs can encourage father-child reading, and provides a handout with tips for fathers.