Reading and engaging in books is one of my favorite daily activities with my 2 1/2 year old son. From the classics, to lift-the-flap, to touch and feel, to sound books, we enjoy experimenting with lots of books. Even though we have stacks and stacks of children’s books on our shelves, I find that we mostly read the same dozen books over and over and over again. I am told this is quite normal as reading the same book inspires confidence in our kids as they know what to expect on each page (sometimes before we even turn the page). I liken it watching your favorite movie over and over again without hitting boredom – we always seem amused and often find something new during each viewing.
It is my love for reading books with my child that I was fascinated by a “Daddy & Me” Reading Program at Rikers Island. Fernanda Santos of The New York Times published DADDY, READ FOR ME about an intriguing program, where “eight men at the Eric M. Taylor Center — one of nine jails on Rikers Island — completed a five-week literacy course this fall called “Daddy and Me,” in which they recorded themselves reading children’s books for the sons and daughters they had left behind. It was the first time such a program had been tried at Rikers, though there have been many similar efforts, most focusing on female inmates in prisons across the country, since at least 1996.”
I spend countless blog entries discussing examples of involved fatherhood. In this latest case, I was moved by a small community of dads that are trying to connect with their children through this literacy program. If you can’t be with them or talk with them on your phone, at least you can use voice and record yourself reading a story on a CD. Then, your child can read the book along with you. More importantly, the focus of the piece was not about the crimes or poor decisions that these guys have made in the past – instead, it was highlighting another path that dads can connect with their children. Beyond happening at Rikers, I expect that recording your voice on a cd to read along with your kids (if you go away on a trip or just looking for an unusual experiment) might be a concept that many other parents might try and embrace.