Ok, FRED isn’t anyone you know, so apologies for the misleading title of the post, but you might not have heard about FRED and you should. Then you should tell a friend about it. FRED is a brilliant reading program to encourage fathers to read more with their children. It stands for Fathers Read Every Day. It is a simple, but brilliantly effective little reading program. I am enjoying currently the pleasure of the final week of this four week reading program with my young daughter, Freya, who has recently started Primary school.
The program originates from Texas A&M University and it has spread across the US and over the pond. It is a great local initiative, not only to get fathers reading with their children – one of the most important singular gifts we can bestow upon our children – but to also connect parents, and especially fathers, with the schooling and he education of their children. I could bombard you with facts and statistics about the value of literacy and the importance of having a literature-rich home, but I’m sure you already knew that the argument is cast iron in favour.
My daughter’s school, Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy, has undertaken the program, through the excellent http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org. It is really easy for fathers, but it takes the effort and organisation of brilliant people, like Mrs Rebecca Sealy, to get this type of program up and running. We should be thankful for these grass-roots campaigners that make a difference to their community with their efforts.
It is incredibly simple. You get supported with reading materials and you are provided with a variety of ways that you can make reading time enriching and engaging. Then you read for two weeks for at least fifteen minutes a day, following by at least half an hour a day for the following two weeks. The end of the program is celebrated by all involved. It is a rare chance to celebrate reading and, crucially, it celebrates male role-model readers – too often a missing link.
As you may expect of an English teacher, I read with my children quite regularly, but this type of program helps provide lots of new ideas for reading approaches, even for seasoned readers, and, importantly, it gets you to record the time spent and what books you read. This really gets you thinking about your habits – establishing quality, extended reading into the daily routine. If you are a tad competitive like me, it also gets you reading for longer and longer! Everybody wins!
After reading a host of books, including many about ancient Egypt with my little girl, we then wrote our own story based on a young Cleopatra (I couldn’t escape the power of princesses!). The whole experience has been great and we can’t wait to share what we have read and written with the other children and fathers.
Please do ask a Primary teacher or librarian near you if they know about the scheme. In our break-neck professional world it is easy to forget about the important things in life. Schemes like this help remind us exactly what is important. In sharing reading, and time, with our kids we offer them more than any gift we can afford. In the sage words of Dr Seuss:
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
We need to talk about FRED and help pass on the wealth of words grown by great reading programs just like it. Pass it on!