Books, beautiful new books! We are closing in on our goal of purchasing 9,000 books to keep kids reading this summer. Local citizens have been generous. Within every contribution is a story because each donor’s life has been impacted by the very fact that they know how to read. The passion behind the act of giving is sometimes palpable, as it was when I got a surprise invitation to the school bus yard to receive a sizable check from Las Cruces Transportation Federation Local 6341, a group of people whose every workday puts them in the position of, quite literally, making the home to school connection. School bus drivers know all of our neighborhoods and provide one of the most overlooked and stressful jobs in education. They know first-hand how school achievement and home environment impacts a child’s life and they expressed great joy in being able to help put books in the hands of children this summer.

June, glorious reprieve from routine and time to celebrate Father’s Day. Here’s a gift idea for both dad and the kids with immediate as well as long lasting value for both… relax with a book. According to Rob Kemp, author of The New Dad’s Survival Guide, dads de-stress when reading aloud. University of Sussex researchers report, “Participants experienced relaxed muscles and decreased heart rate within six pages.” Additional benefits for dads include greater skill acquisition, greater confidence and self-esteem, better father-child relationships and increased engagement with learning. And that’s just the dad’s reward.

According to researchers at the Fatherhood Institute, “The time a father spends reading with his child is one of the most consistent links to that child achieving positive literacy scores at every grade.” Improvement is not limited to language and literacy. “Children whose dads read to them regularly displayed better behaviour and concentration at nursery, and performed better at maths too”.

The behavior associated with Dad reading sends a strong message to boys in particular. Even in families where childcare has been disrupted by divorce or separation, the influence of dads reading encourages their children to read and is a key factor in ongoing educational progress.

Over the course of a year researching the impact that parents reading had upon their children, Dr. Elisabeth Duursma, found that girls benefited too when read to by a male. “The impact is huge – particularly if dads start reading to kids under the age of two.” Duursma explains, “Reading is seen as a female activity and kids seem to be more tuned in when their dad reads to them – it’s special.”

According to a study entitled ‘Why Fathers Matter to Their Children’s Literacy’ by the National Literacy Trust, time-pressured dads reported reading as a major way to develop a unique and special relationship with their children.

In a Harvard study, children benefited from the kinds of questions posed by men because they tended to spark imaginative discussions which expand vocabulary and were cognitively challenging.


Dads don’t even have to be reading out loud to have an impact. Research published by the British Journal of Educational Psychology reports “Dads who are seen to be reading a lot around the home – books, newspapers, etc. – send out a positive sign to their children that it’s an enjoyable thing to do.”

My own informal survey at an NEA Read Across America event at Mesilla Park Recreation Center suggests that local dads confirm these findings.

Las Cruces dad, Christopher, says he reads because, “I enjoy the quiet moment with my kids. I read to my children because I know it benefits them. Reading to them helps them learn to read, develops their imaginations; it will help them get ahead in school.”

Another dad, Jay, says his read aloud bedtime routine is special, quality time for him with his children. “Reading is part of our good night routine: first they each choose a book so we read two books, talk about the day and kiss goodnight.”

Five year old Penelope and three year old Jude deny having a preference between Mom and Dad as long as they get their story time each night.