Kamloops library program encourages dads to read to their kids

The library in Kamloops is launching a new literacy program next month that focuses on the importance of having dads involved in reading to their young kids.

The Man in the Moon program starting at the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library, is modelled after the same program the Vancouver Public Library started in 2000.

"We are trying to shed a little light on the importance of fathers and other male caregivers in their children's early years, particularly in engaging in shared reading, singing and building early literacy skills together," said Meg Ross, coordinator for children's and youth services at the library. 

'Kind of intimidating'

When single dad Kyle Bachmann takes his five-year-old son Haven to the library, he's usually the only dad there amongst the moms. 

"[It's] kind of intimidating. Most men are scared....especially single dads," said Bachmann. "And most of them don't really know too much about the library."

Having a group aimed at fathers would mean a lot him, he said.

Benefits of male involvement

Over the past 40 years there's been research that's stressed the importance of parents getting involved in early childhood literacy from infancy to age five. Ross told Daybreak North's Jenifer Norwell. 

However, most of it was focused on the role of mothers, she said.

But in the last 20 years, she's seen research emerge on the role that male caregivers play.

"We've had this whole huge body of evidence building that shows just how important fathers are in that same period of development for things like social development, emotional development, and later academic success and self-confidence," she said.

Jenifer Norwell/CBC

"It's really pivotal having their dads and other male caregivers and figures involved in that period in their lives."

One of the benefits of having male caregivers also involved with reading to kids is exposure to different language.

"[Fathers] actually engage and use different language in a lot of these interactions," said Ross. 

Safe space

The weekly program starts in April. Each half-hour session will include sharing songs, rhymes and some oral storytelling too, said Ross. 

"We're hoping it's going to be a really safe space for dads, grandpas, and any other male caregivers to come and to not feel intimidated, to not feel like they're the only man in the room," said Ross.

 "And to be able to just relax and enjoy themselves."