Robbie Hunter-Paul calls out for dads to send in ‘reading selfies’ with their children

05 Jun 2015
Robbie Hunter Paul

The Bradford rugby league legend is calling on families to enter the competition by sending photographs or ‘selfies’ of dads reading to their children. The pictures will be published in an online gallery on the Telegraph & Argus’  website on Father’s Day, Sunday 21 June. Dads who submit a photo, along with the title of their favourite book to share with their children, could win book tokens and a stack of free books for their school or children's centre.

Parental engagement in a child’s literacy development is a key contributor to their success. But, worryingly, the National Literacy Trust’s recently published Children and Young People’s Reading in 2014 report found that just one in four (24.3%) of the children and young people surveyed agreed with the statement “my parents don’t care if I spend any time reading”. This increases sharply among pupils who receive free school meals, with almost one third (31.5%) agreeing with the statement, compared to 23% of pupils who do not receive free school meals.

Robbie Hunter-Paul, who is pictured reading to his 14 month old son, Sebastian Hunter- Paul says:

“My enjoyment of reading to my son is based on having the ability to connect with him and help him develop. My wife and I personally love to read and it is what you will find us doing every evening. We also have a real desire to embed our children with our passion for books.

As the world becomes used to reading and thinking in short text messages or social media ‘post’ studies show we are shortening our attention span. Reading books is the one weapon we have to battle this trend because reading at length is ‘food for the brain’. Most importantly though reading is fun, nothing beats a gripping novel and no movie, TV series or Youtube clip can grab your imagination as well as a masterfully written story. 

Sebastian’s favourite book is 'The Very Busy Spider' by Eric Carle‎. He likes the book because we make all of the noises the farm yard animals would make. He finds it funny when I moo, quack or oink as he turns each page.” 

Imran Hafeez, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford has provided a picture of him reading with his 3 month-old daughter, Kenzah and 5 year old son, Sudais. Imran said: 

“Our work with children’s centres has shown what a positive difference dads and male carers’ engagement in their children’s learning at home can make. Taking time to share stories creates happy memories as it is a great way of spending quality time together. 

Reading is vital for raising a child’s literacy levels and improving their life chances. Dads can be good reading role models by sharing a variety of books, ebooks, newspapers, magazines, comics, websites and brochures with their children which are all great for getting kids to enjoy reading. 

One of my fondest memories of my father was of story time and his ability to tell great stories which filled me with excitement and adventure as a kid. One of our favourite books is ‘Dogger’ – a heart-warming story of siblings looking after each other”