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Library News

By: Diane Schwilling, Circulation Volunteer
For: Red Rock News
Date: June 19, 2009

Fathers Encourage Their Children to Read

This Sunday, June 21, is Father’s Day. Since I was born on Father’s Day, it’s always been a special holiday for me. Every six years, I shared my birthday celebration with my father. It seems like I always got top billing, though, which ties in with the holiday’s history.

The idea of a Father’s Day did not catch on as quickly as Mother’s Day. At first, it was met with ridicule. Mrs. John B. Dodd proposed the idea in 1909, and the first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, WA. But it wasn’t until 1924 that President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.

When I worked in the telecommunications industry, our annual Mother’s Day news release stressed the best times to call to avoid busy circuits, because Mother’s Day was the busiest long distance calling day of the year. On Father’s Day, the number of calls was much lower — although more collect calls were placed on that day than any other day.

Today’s fathers are expected to take an active role in raising their children. In fact, a special program has been developed to encourage fathers to become involved in their children’s literacy development and to improve the quality of father-child relationships.

Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) is named after a real father, Fred Bourland, who read to his own children as they were growing up. Inspired by her father’s example, Dr. Lynn Bourland White came up with the original concept underlying FRED, and Dr. Stephen Green developed the program’s structure and content.

A lifelong reader himself, Fred Bourland continually expanded his own knowledge through reading — the daily newspaper, a farm magazine or the Bible. The father of three daughters, Fred firmly believed that reading opened the door of opportunity for himself and his children — and that reading can do the same for others.

Under the four-week program, fathers read to their children a minimum of 15 minutes a day for the first two weeks and a minimum of 30 minutes a day for the next two weeks. Fathers document the amount of time spent reading to their children and the number of books read. At the end of the program, fathers and their children are invited to a party to celebrate their participation in FRED.

At Sedona Public Library, we see many fathers bringing their children to story times and other programs, helping them learn to use library services like the computers and approving their reading selections.

On a recent afternoon, I talked to three fathers about why they believe it’s important for their children to learn to appreciate libraries.

James Paris has been bringing his 4-year-old-son Nico to the Library at least once a week since Nico was 1. Sometimes he also brings his older two children. James’ father took him to the library, too. 

“It’s important for children to see different areas and get ideas,” James says. “Just like going to daycare before they start school, visiting the library helps them learn how to act and what’s appropriate. I take Nico into the adult section so he can see people reading books, newspapers and magazines and understand that these are things we do at home, but many people do them at the library, too.”

Nico’s favorite part of the library is getting books to take home for his mommy, daddy, sister or brother to read to him.

Mike Farkas’ son Caelem Russell, who attends Sedona Charter School, comes to the Library every day after school. Caelem likes using the computers and finding interesting books.

When Mike was a kid in Alhambra, CA, he rode his bike to the library on Main Street next to Ralph’s Grocery Store. Mike didn’t learn to read until he was 11 and a special teacher helped him. But he was always extremely curious, which is why he went to the library every day even when he couldn’t read.

Mike wants his kids to come to the library and read a lot of different people’s books.

“It helps them build their imagination,” Mike says. “It’s a wonderful place to spend time. I love to come here.”

While we were talking, Caelem got his first library card. Mike sees it as a way to help him learn responsibility.

When James Crowley was growing up, he went to a small country library. It had limited resources, but was still a good place to find books, periodicals and newspapers. James’ father always encouraged him to read and quoted a president who said he had read all the books in his local library by the time he was in high school. (Note: That was President Harry Truman.)

James is trying to pass on to his kids an appreciation for the resources offered by a library.

"If not for my father, I probably wouldn’t have started bringing my own kids to the library when they were babies,” James said. “The library is not a strange place for them.”

James’ children are all old enough to read now, but reading aloud is still an almost daily family activity.

I don’t remember my father going to the library with me, but I know he had to drive me there, because we lived 15 miles from town. And I do remember checking out every Zane Grey book I could find so he could read them, too.

Diane Schwilling
Diane Schwilling , author of this week's article,
is Circulation Volunteer of the Sedona Library, Inc.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.