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Fathers 'best for bedtime stories'

HealthBy Sunday World
Fathers 'best for bedtime stories'

Having a bedtime story is a ritual for many children, helping them slip off to sleep quickly. Now it's been suggested that to get the most of their nocturnal tale, kids should get their fathers to read it.

A team at Harvard University in America has made the claim, after investigating how a year of hearing bedtime stories read by parents impacted some toddlers. It was discovered that particularly girls saw big improvements in their language when they listened to tales from men.

"The impact is huge, particularly if dads start reading to kids under the age of two," Elisabeth Duursma, who will present the research at a conference this week (beg28Sep15), explained. "Reading is seen as a female activity and kids seem to be more tuned in when their dad reads to them – it’s special."

It's thought that the way men and women read, and what they do afterwards, is at the root of the difference. While ladies tend to ask children exact questions about the story, men take a more imaginative route.

For example, rather than just asking about when a meal featured in a book, they might talk about an experience of eating they'd had. This helps kids use different language and builds their imagination, with Dr Duursma explaining this is beneficial because it is "cognitively challenging".

Obviously this doesn't mean women should ditch the stories and make men take over. That would actually be very damaging, as a number of studies have detailed how beneficial reading to children is.

Bedtime stories in particular can aide a child's learning, as they usually feel very safe when they are wrapped up in bed and spending special time with one of their parents. They also help increase a little one's vocabulary, as well as allowing mum and dad to bond with their son or daughter.

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