08/06/2015 05:16 BST | Updated 07/06/2016 06:59 BST

Fathers Do Not Read Enough to Their Children

Why is it that in 2015, when the number of stay-at-home fathers in Britain has doubled over the last decade, dads are still behind their partners when it comes to reading with their children?

Our research, released this week, shows 50% more mothers read to their child at 0-11 months than fathers. The behavioural gap continues even as children get older, with a quarter more mothers reading with their five-year-old than fathers.

And it's not just the older generation of fathers stuck in a cultural rut; evidence shows that only 25% of fathers aged 15-24 read to their child compared to 61% of mothers of the same age.

So what's going on? Men read - we know that. So do fathers see reading with children as a female domain? And is this one of the reasons why, by school age, girls tend to read more than boys?

It is time to put a stop to this reading habit which has surreptitiously crept in to British culture.

That's why during National Bookstart Week - where we are giving 450,000 families a carefully chosen book and advice on reading - we are highlighting the importance of fathers as reading role models for their children and encouraging them to find time each day to read with their children.

Because whilst getting books to children is important (a third of children still grow up in a house with no books), our biggest challenge as a reading charity is getting parents to engage, to read with their children, to read themselves. Children who watch their parents getting lost in a book are far more likely to get excited about reading than those who are told to read themselves. It's why our book gifting programmes are always delivered through health, library and education professionals who can support families to read; why the advice and resources we give with the books are as important as the books themselves.

Fathers (and mothers, for that matter) shouldn't see reading to their children as a chore; sharing a book can create wonderful memories and great bonding opportunities. It also gives children the best start in life. Sharing books with children from as early as possible helps to develop their motor skills, build social routines and begin their journey towards understanding language and vocabulary.

We know that children who read for pleasure do significantly better at school, are more confident and more resilient. In fact, children who are read to when young will be almost 12 months ahead of their age group when they start school. But we also know that reading is a huge pleasure in itself and we want more people to enjoy it - and that includes fathers.

It doesn't matter what you're reading. It could be fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, or picture books that don't have a single word in them, enabling you to make up the story as you go along.

We know that it can be difficult to find the right book if your child is a reluctant reader or needs some more challenging books, that's why we spend so much time picking out the best books for children by age, genre and additional needs.

What really matters, though, is that parents read regularly and enjoy it. Make the 15 minutes you spend, uninterrupted with your child: phone away, television turned off.

That's what we're hoping for this National Bookstart Week. We believe that books are doorways. Let's open as many of them as possible.

Book Trust is Britain's largest reading charity. It reaches two million children and families each year through its book gifting programmes which deliver carefully chosen books to families through professional partners including health visitors, children's centres and libraries. Book Trust also delivers additional support and books to those who need it most including vulnerable mothers and children in care. www.booktrust.org.uk