It was Father's Day recently and along with the 'hello how are you phone call' and chat to my dad, and our children coming up to spend the day with their always brings to mind what are my strongest childhood memories of my dad.

Fishing...digging for worms and teaching us how to bait a hook because he wasn't going to do all of our lines!

Gardening...both my parents were keen gardeners and my sister and I have both got the bug.

And then there was reading. We had this huge book of Fairy Tales..not your pretty and dainty tales, these were the original Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson tales full of witches and dark tormented forests and slicing feet to fit into slippers. Still remember the Tinderbox and the dog with eyes as big as saucers....

Dad would read to us. We loved to snuggle up, all of us either on a bed in the girls room or a bed in the boys room...listening to these tales. Then the scurry back to bed (probably before the witch got us)....but I so remember Dad reading to us. It's an important part of my childhood memories.

We have very few dads that come to Storytime or Tinies....basically because the mother is often the main 'stay at home carer'...and women are the majority of Day Care people. However I have a few dads who do come in...and I LOVE watching their interaction with their babies and toddlers as they read and sing to them.

One dad has this little boy, a very solemn 'taking the world in' little guy...and he so wants him to smile and laugh like the majority of the babies around him. However this little chap is a watcher of the world at the moment...and each week his dad picks up a book and reads to him. This week he was reading about a hippopotamus and the add lib lines were hilarious.

'So here's the hippopotamus look how big he is, bit like Pop isn't he'.....'and look at that, if you can see that picture clearly we need to get your eyes tested'.......'and here's the hippo in the mud, yep just wait and see what happens when you get this filthy, Mum's not going to like it.'

It was such fun, but mostly the baby, about five months old, was paying so much attention. To every page, listening to every comment. Great bonding time, but more importantly great fun. Both of them were enjoying it immensely.

This father, joins in with the singing and allows Mum to do the Round and Round the Garden and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star- but when it comes to action and bouncing baby rhymes like Boing Boing Squeak or Zoom Zoom he says 'my turn' and sings loudly as he bounces his baby wildly. (Zoom Zoom has a countdown at the end and when we get to zero the babies are lifted up in the air, I actually had one father throw his child----and easily catch him....but it was heart racing for a while and I told him not to whilst in the library, my heart couldn't stand it!)

We had one dad that came regularly into Storytime for years with his two girls, a big burly guy, shaved head, tatts and a bandana....and after each session he would sit down with his girls on his lap and read picture books. Mostly about princesses and cupcakes and puppies....he would get so into it he would do all the different voices as well. His girls are now at primary school and I'm positive he still reads to them...and this will be a huge impact on their life.

Part of my job is to talk to first time parents groups---a basic intro to the library and what we have to offer etc etc...but I get so excited when I hear stories about partners reading to these little babies. Fathers have been reading fishing magazines, graphic novels complete with BAM BASH sound effects, newspapers, one is a mad keen Essendon supporter and he reads the stats to his little girl each week and they watch the game together (she was only six weeks old when this began).

Dads are important for so many reasons----and the dads that read are the coolest out there!



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