Dads Read


Paloma, on right, is making some sounds.

Dad 1 (on the right): Yeees.

Paloma: Dada. Mama. Read it.

Dad 1: Read it, OK. Well, there’s not many words, but I can make up the story. Look! The baby gets some grapes from Carl, and then Carl pours some chocolate—for chocolate milk for the baby.

Olin, the boy on the left, giggles.

Dad 1: And then the milk comes right after the chocolate syrup. Oh, my. And then they go for the cookie jar after the milk and cookies. Oh, and now they’re just having a feast. Lookit, peanut butter and ice cream and milk and all kinds of good things. (Olin looks at him.) Would you want to eat all that stuff?

Olin: Yeah.

Dad 2 (on the left): Look at Carl—look at the baby’s face on that picture. He’s got goop all over his face.

Dad 1: Oh my goodness, the baby could use a little, um, cleaning up, huh?

Dad 2: Aah, good idea.

Dad 1: And what are they about to do now? What’s that behind there? Is Carl in the bathroom?

Olin: Yeah!

Dad 1: And what’re they gonna do?

Dad 2: Dunk.

Dad 1: Does it look like they’re gonna take a bath to get cleaned up?

Olin: Yeah.

Dad 2: Look, Carl’s got soap in his mouth. The—the dog has c— soap—

Dad 1: Yuck. (Olin looks over at him with a smile.)

Dad 2: And he goes,

Dad 1: “Ah!”

Dad 2: (making a burbling noise) Blub-blub.

Dad 1: What do you see? What’s going on with the doggie’s mouth along—Olin? What’s coming out of the doggie’s mouth? (makes burbling noise) Blub-blub.

Olin: Soap!

Dad 1: Sooooooap.

Dad 2: Soap bubbles. And thennn he’s dry— Carl’s drying. (makes hair dryer noise)

Dad 1: Oh my goodness, he’s using a blow-dryer.

Dad 2: Olin has one of those.

Dad 1: Carl is a very smart dog. And then—boom.

Paloma: (reaching for the page and pointing) What’s that?

Dad 1: What do you think it is?

Paloma: A-that.

Dad 1: What do you think that is?

Olin: Dog.

Dad 1: Yeah, I think it might be a dog.

Olin makes a slurping noise and vocalizes.

Dad 1: Is it— It went down to the— Is the dog chewing?

Olin says something softly.

Olin: There’s a machine… (The book drops and Dad 2 picks it up.)

Dad 1: What about the machine?

Dad 2: Yeah, that blow-dryer, Olin.

Olin: Yeah.

Dad 1: Hmm…

Dad 2: (Making a blow-dryer noise.) and Carl’s putting stuff in the garbage and licking up all the stuff on the kitchen floor. Hey! Putting away things in the bedroom.

Paloma: Uh-uh-me-uh me.

Dad 1: You want what?

Paloma: Ah-de-book.

Dad 1: Oh, you want me to ha-hold the book here, OK. What do you see in this picture, Olin and Paloma? What do you see?

Olin: Baby s’eepin’ in c’ib.

Dad 1: Baby sleeping in the crib, yeah. And who comes home?

Olin: Mama.

Dad 1: Mama came home and they’re—they—the doggie and the baby are just, just sitting in the way that Mama left them. After all that, what a big adventure.

Very young children are likely to engage with books when adults model and encourage interaction during the reading experience. Several strategies can make these interactions more successful. The two dads in this clip model several useful strategies that will encourage very young children to begin to engage with the process of reading books.

In this clip, the two dads model several ways to encourage very young children to begin to engage with the process of reading books.

  • Listen for Opportunities. A love for books and reading is better cultivated than forced. In this clip, 18-month-old Paloma signals her interest in books and reading by saying, “Da Da, read it.”
  • Get Comfortable. It is apparent that all four participants in this book-reading experience feel comfortable and safe. Children associate their first reading experiences with the comfort of being held on the lap of a loved one.
  • Use Wordless Books. Wordless books lend themselves to interaction about the story. The dads in this clip selected a wordless board book.
  • Select Books with Familiar Settings. Parents can increase participation by very young children by selecting settings with which the children are familiar. In this clip, the dads and children enjoy a story about Carl, a big black dog, and his adventures at home.
  • Relate the Book to the Child’s Own Experiences. When children identify with the characters in the book, they are likely to be more interested in the story. In this clip, Paloma’s dad explains, “And now they’re just having a feast. Peanut butter, and ice cream, milk, and all kinds of good things.” He then asks Olin, “Would you want to eat all that stuff?”
  • Model the Practice of Noticing and Thinking about What Is Read. Because there are two dads engaged in this book-reading experience, they are able to model how to carry on a dialogue about a book. For example, Olin’s dad says, “Look at the baby’s face on that picture. It’s got goop all over it.” Paloma’s dad then suggests, “The baby could use a little cleaning up.” “Ahhhh, good idea,” responds Olin’s dad.
  • Describe What Is Happening in the Book. Describing helps children to understand that the illustrations are interrelated and tell a story. For instance, in this clip, Olin’s dad says, “Look, Carl’s got soap in his mouth.”
  • Ask Open-ended Questions. Open-ended questions can focus the child’s attention on important aspects of the story and provide the child with opportunities to share his own interpretation of the story. For example, in this clip, Paloma’s dad asks, “What are they about to do now?” What’s that behind there?”
  • Allow Adequate Time for the Children to Respond. It often takes very young children longer to think things through than it does their older peers. Adults are likely to get a more thoughtful answer if they wait at least 4 seconds for the child to answer.
  • Share Your Enjoyment with Children. Children are likely to enjoy things that they observe their parents enjoying. The two dads in this clip repeatedly express their enjoyment of the story through their facial expressions, the tone of their voices, and their words. For example, they chuckle about the fact that the characters in the story prepare a feast of grapes, milk, chocolate syrup, peanut butter, and ice cream.
  • Acknowledge Children’s Contributions with Enthusiasm. When children’s contributions are warmly welcomed, they are more likely to make further contributions. For example, in this clip, Paloma’s dad asks, “What do you see in this picture, Olin and Paloma?” Olin cheerfully states, “Baby’s sleepin’ in a crib.” Paloma’s dad acknowledges his shared understanding by enthusiastically repeating Olin’s statement. “Baby’s sleeping in the crib. Yah!”
  • Add Sound Effects. Adding sound effects can help children understand that the illustrations in the book represent real things. For instance, Olin’s dad makes the sound of the blow drier operating, and Olin later identifies it by saying, “Der’s a machine.” Olin’s dad says, “Yah, that blow drier, Olin?”

Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age Three & How They Were Met

Self-Regulation: Foundation of Development
Attention Regulation
Children demonstrate the emerging ability to process stimuli, focus and sustain attention, and maintain engagement in accordance with social and cultural contexts.

  • Indicators for children (16-24 months): Attends and stays engaged to often reach a goal, e.g., places all the shapes in the shape sorter
  • Action: Both children attended to the story the entire time, asking and answering questions to participate in the storytelling.

Developmental Domain 1: Social & Emotional Development
Relationship with Adults
Children demonstrate the desire and develop the ability to engage, interact, and build relationships with familiar adults.

  • Indicators for children (16-24 months): Builds emotional connections with other familiar adults, in addition to primary caregiver(s)
  • Action: Olin and Paloma sat on their fathers’ laps throughout the story. Olin frequently watched Paloma’s father as he talked about the book and responded to questions he asked. Both children interacted with their fathers by expressing excitement/enjoyment about the book. Olin laughed several times.

Developmental Domain 1: Social & Emotional Development
Relationship with Peers
Children demonstrate the desire and develop the ability to engage and interact with other children.

  • Indicators for children (16-24 months): Demonstrates enthusiasm around other children
  • Action: Paloma turned her attention to Olin (older friend) several times to watch him and his interactions with their fathers.

Developmental Domain 3: Language Development, Communication, & Literacy
Social Communication
Children demonstrate the ability to engage with and maintain communication with others.

  • Indicators for children (16-24 months):
    • Engages in short back-and-forth interactions with familiar others using verbal and nonverbal communication, e.g., says or signs “more” after each time a caregiver completes an action the child is enjoying
    • Initiates and engages in social interaction with simple words and actions
    • Demonstrates an understanding of turn-taking in conversations, e.g., asks and answers simple questions
  • Action: Both children engaged in turn taking when they listened and responded to what their fathers said about the book. Paloma verbally initiated interactions by asking her father to read and saying that she wanted the book.

Developmental Domain 3: Language Development, Communication, & Literacy
Receptive Communication
Children demonstrate the ability to comprehend both verbal and nonverbal communication.

  • Indicators for children (16-24 months): Demonstrates understanding of familiar words or phrases by responding appropriately, e.g., sits in chair after hearing it is snack time
  • Action: Olin replied to questions from his father and Paloma’s father about book illustration by telling what he saw in the pictures.

Developmental Domain 3: Language Development, Communication, & Literacy
Expressive Communication
Children demonstrate the ability to understand and convey thoughts through both nonverbal and verbal expression.

  • Indicators for children (16-24 months):
    • Uses more words than gestures when speaking
    • Has a vocabulary of approximately 80 words
    • Begins to use telegraphic speech, consisting of phrases with words left out, e.g., “baby sleep” for “The baby is sleeping”
  • Action:
    • Olin used phrases of up to five words in his interactions. Paloma used some three-word phrases and nonverbal communication.
    • Paloma indicated what she wanted with a combination of gestures and speaking (“Dada. Read it.” “Unh nat. Uhn me. … Ahn dat book.”). Olin answered questions and commented about the book.

Developmental Domain 3: Language Development, Communication, & Literacy
Early Literacy
Children demonstrate interest in and comprehension of printed materials.

  • Indicators for children (16-24 months):
    • Points to familiar pictures and actions in books
    • Identifies a favorite book and signals familiar others to read with him or her, e.g., brings the book over, or points and gestures
  • Action: Paloma pointed to a book illustration and asked, “Whass dat?”Olin identified a “machine” (hair dryer) in an illustration that his father mentioned earlier. Both children looked at the book illustrations as their fathers talked. Paloma said “Dada, read it” and later indicated that she wanted the book.

Developmental Domain 4: Cognitive Development
Concept Development
Children demonstrate the ability to connect pieces of information in understanding objects, ideas, and relationships.

  • Indicators for children (16-24 months): Begins to identify and name objects and people
  • Action: Olin described one illustration as “Baby’s sleepin’ in a crib.” He referred to a hair dryer in an illustration as “a machine.”

Approaches to Learning
Curiosity & Initiative
Children demonstrate interest and eagerness in learning about their world.

  • Indicators for children (16-24 months): Demonstrates an interest in new activities and a willingness to try out new experiences
  • Action: Both children remained engaged during this book-sharing activity—listening, looking at the book, and asking/answering questions.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Family Child Care
  • Home

Intended audience(s):
  • Parents / Family

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
  • Infants and Toddlers (Birth To Age 3)
  • Preschoolers (Age 3 Through Age 5)

Related IEL Birth to Three Guidelines:
Reviewed: 2017
English title: Dads Read