Reading Together Helps Latino Dads and Kids


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Sadly, Latino parents are less engaged in their child’s education.

So what happened when a program helped Latino dads read books together with their young kids?

The Latino dads’ parenting skills jumped 30%.

The Latino children’s language development and school readiness jumped 30%, too.

These amazing results come from a New York University study that engaged 126 low-income, Spanish-speaking fathers and their Head Start children in shared book reading and a parent training over eight weeks.

“Our study finds that it is possible to engage fathers from low-income communities in parenting interventions, which benefits both the fathers and their children,” said study leader Dr. Anil Chacko of NYU Steinhardt.

Gaps in Latino Child Literacy

Preliteracy gaps are seen in Latino kids as young as age 12.

Latino homes are less likely than others to have parents who read to kids, according to a Salud America! research review. Some Latino and low-income parents may not feel confident in their English skills, which makes them less likely to read to their children.

By age 3, kids from low-income families hear 30 million fewer words than their peers.

These kids start kindergarten behind in reading and vocabulary skills and often don’t catch up.

The Critical Need to Engage Fathers

Children with parents who are active in their education have better social and emotional skills at an early age, which enhances their classroom achievement and overall health, according to a Salud America! research review.

Programs to engage parents are of great need. But most programs focus on mothers.

Because men are generally more reluctant to talk about their problems to others, a program that took the focus from their potential deficits as parents to improving their kids' academic potential was probably much more appealing.

Anil Chacko
Associate professor of counseling psychology at New York University

Latino and may men are often less willing to talk about their problems, like parenting insecurities or health issues. They may be less engaged in their children’s lives and participate less in school events.

The new study sought to hurdle that obstacle.

Shared-book Study on Latino Dads

Researchers created an eight-week parenting class for dads, but framed it as an academic-readiness program for children, called Fathers Supporting Success in Preschoolers: A Community Parent Education Program.

Dads would read books with their children in Head Start and at home.

The dads also participated in parent training. Dads were shown short videos of other fathers making mistakes while reading books with children. Mistakes included reading mistakes, such as counting cows incorrectly, and parenting mistakes, such as not praising the child when they counted the cows correctly. In groups of 10, the fathers would then discuss how those mistakes could affect their children’s reading and development.

Participants in the training were compared to a waitlist of dads and children.

The results were wildly succesful, NPR reports:

“Based on researchers’ observations and parent questionnaires, dads’ parenting skills—like establishing routines, rewarding good behavior and ignoring attention-seeking behavior—improved by at least 30% compared to the dads on the class waitlist. Children’s overall behavior improved, too. And standardized tests showed a 30% increase in the children’s language development and school readiness.”

The results show the need to develop culturally relevant, engaging, and sustainable parenting interventions for Latino dads.

“Because men are generally more reluctant to talk about their problems to others, a program that took the focus from their potential deficits as parents to improving their kids’ academic potential was probably much more appealing,” Chacko told NPR.

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latino parents support public funding for afterschool programs

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