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Dear Reader: In Praise of Reading Fathers

Publisher’s note for ParentMap’s June 2019 issue

Alayne Sulkin

Published on: May 30, 2019

Father reading to his daughter

My kids hit the bonanza with a father who is particularly easy to celebrate on Father’s Day. In each of their eyes, he is flawless. My husband Bobby is a rare combination of having exceptional wisdom to share with our kids, yet he does so judiciously and always in a way that is judgment-free. I will keep learning from him.


June 2019 ParentMap MagazineHe also has an uncanny ease about who he is, inside and outside his own skin. His charm, warmth, wicked sense of humor, insomnia, big heart and seemingly limitless brain capacity, coupled with his Mr. Magoo-ness (search it!), make him a most endearing father. And he has hit a whole new stride as grandfather to lucky baby Levi and a devoted uncle to many adoring nieces and nephews.

Our youngest daughter’s frequent reaction to a friendly yet fierce discussion with her father on some complex topic, from history or politics to the royals and popular culture, is to walk away in wonderment, shaking her head and mumbling, “How does Daddy know everything?”

The answer: He reads!

Our kids were raised on and surrounded by books everywhere beginning at birth. Through their parents’ deep affection for the written word and Bobby’s magnificent ability to tell stories, our kids experienced worlds of complex emotion, empathy, exploration and adventure. It is impossible not to flash back to each of our kids’ unique emotional constitutions that tied them to a certain bedtime story night after night. Don’t we all have one child who relates to William Stieg’s “Spinky Sulks,” about a highly sensitive, slightly impossible boy driven over the edge by an occasionally unbearable but very loving family who helps him to see what constant sulking looks and feels like.

In fact, researchers have found that those who read fiction regularly score better on measures of empathy than those who read other types of content. The owner of my neighborhood bookstore, Laurie Raisys of Island Books, shared with me my favorite piece of reading wisdom: “A book takes time, and maybe what kids need is to be given time to appreciate the power of their imaginations and a chance to learn about themselves and others.” (Read: Good News for Bookworms: Fiction Teaches Kids About Empathy.)

As we enter the sacred slowdown of summer vacation, we packed up priceless exploration and adventure for your family through our precious local libraries (Let’s Go to the Library!) — at a great price: free! Visit a few of the extraordinary libraries in our region; your passport to endless adventure is your library card (Book It to These 12 Destination Libraries).

Happy Father’s Day!

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