THECHARITY Save the Children has made boys' literacy a priority for its younger children's team and will publish a report next month based on a wide-ranging consultation with boys and their fathers about reading.
Boys' Reading and Fathers' Involvement includes conversations with children aged from four to 14 and groups of fathers in London and Bristol.
The report, funded by a National Year of Reading grant, found that while most mothers read to their sons, fathers tended to check up on boys' reading skills. "My dad makes me read aloud to make sure I can read it properly," one boy said. Fathers tended to be more judgmental.
While many fathers believed it was important to get involved in activities with their children, this did not generally include reading. Another boy said: "My mum reads to me and my dad tickles me and plays with me."
But boys tended to look on their fathers as role models, and were from an early age aware of their fathers' reactions and what their fathers read. "When I read to my dad he closes his eyes, it makes me angry, I want him to listen," said one boy.
On the whole, Save the Children found boys were enthusiastic about reading. The car and football magazines or non-fiction books read by their fathers were their favourites.
"It is terribly important to gear boys' reading to their existing interests and to build on their strengths," said Lina Fajerman, a Save the Children development officer.