12/06/2015 11:22 BST | Updated 12/06/2016 06:59 BST

Dads Too Embarrassed to Read to Kids

Aptly coinciding with National Bookstart Week, The Book Trust recently reported that over 80% of young dads don't enjoy reading to their kids, and only 25% of dads under 25 read to their kids at all.

Apparently they're too busy with social media and sports pages on their tablets and phones.

Surely a hoard of faceless social media followers shouldn't be rewarded with dads' wit and insight more than their own children? Well, I'm led to believe that shunning bedtime stories can actually stem from embarrassment. Think about it, most dads haven't 'acted' or read aloud in public since school.

As a teacher who has read to hundreds of kids and now spends her life trying to find gifts to entertain them, I have some helpful tips for any parent who may be feeling the fear at story time.

Here's how you can read to kids without feeling embarrassed:

The evening routine

Go to the bookshelf and pick up something large and colourful with lots of pictures. If the choice is difficult, ask your child to pick one, they'll be delighted!

Now you need to bring things to life a bit, take a deep breath and read aloud like no-one's watching.

Your child is the least judgmental fan you'll ever have! Reading to your children is not like updating Facebook - in their eyes, you can do no wrong. They are fully prepared to make you their hero, so kick off your shoes and have some fun!


Teachers are good at reading books to kids because they've read them all before. With a new book, read it by yourself first. This is your chance to understand what's going on, meaning you can throw yourself into the story and make it more entertaining when it's time for the kids to listen.

Try giving each character a voice

It doesn't have to be a silly voice and not every character has to have one. Choose just one character and alter your voice. Make it gruffly and deep or high-pitched and squeaky, use an accent (and have your kids guess where it's from), try speaking more slowly or quickly. They'll love the difference and colour this brings to the story.


Use finger puppets to bring action to the story. This is great for small children as it helps to connect words with action. Or grab some toys from the cupboard to play different characters.

Rope in your other half

If you find reading really excruciating, would it help to read to your kids as a team? You can take certain characters, your partner can take others. Make reading a family affair!

Change the time and location

Reading isn't just for bedtime. There are some brilliant bath books available and bath toys can help bring books to life, too. Or grab a short story and read to your kids over breakfast.

The car is another great place - you've got captive audience in need of entertainment. If you're driving, recite a story or make one up, asking your kids what happens next.

And that's another great option - there are books that have been turned into games, with questions at each turn in the plot allowing kids to decide what happens next. Roald Dahl's Scrumdiddlyumptious Storybook Game is a perfect example. It helps develop reading and listening skills along with comprehension and memory - but above all, it's just good fun!

And that's the secret at the end of the day. Reading to your kids is a privilege that won't last forever. Who cares if you sound silly, get the words wrong or mess up, they'll love you all the more for it!

Lisa Bradburn is founder of what2buy4kids.co.uk