Over 40 dads signed up to an exciting new reading programme for children yesterday delivered through A Better Start Southend.

Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) is a four-week programme designed to get dads into the habit of reading to their child every day. Launch events took place yesterday (29 September) at Barons Court Primary School, Milton Hall Primary School and Nursery, and Summercourt Children’s Centre.

Research shows that children who grow up with warm, nurturing, and actively involved fathers and male carers do better in school, have high self-esteem, behave better and build better relationships with other children.

David Booth, Phase Leader, at Milton Hall Primary School, said: “We’ve invited fathers, and by fathers we mean a significant person in the child’s life, which could be Dad, Stepdad, Grandad, Uncle or older brother to join FRED.”

Salma, mother to Abdulmalik, who came with his Uncle, said: “I want him to read. Usually I take him to the library, but I wanted him to be part of this community and meet other people. That’s why I came.” Asked if he liked reading, Abdulmalik enthusiastically shouted “Yes!”

David attended with granddaughter Madison: “We read with all our children when they were little and we want to do it with the grandchildren too.”

One Dad said: “I think it’s a really good initiative. Anything that gets more children into books and reading and learning quicker has got to be a good idea.”

Mrs Knight, Assistant Headteacher at Milton Hall, was pleased with the launch: “It’s been such a great turn-out – we couldn’t let all the parents in who wanted to come when they saw what was happening. We’ve had lots of mums who are going to pass on the books so that dads can do the reading.”

At the launch event fathers committed to reading with their child every day. The Fatherhood Institute explained how the scheme works and then guests were free to browse the books on offer and settle down to read them there or take them away for later.

Fathers will be supported to understand the importance of reading with their children; how to read to their child; how to bring the stories alive; and how to support their child’s learning during the process. They will be encouraged to keep a reading log to record the reading sessions and progress.

The programme will finish with a party in November where the success of the children and the fathers will be celebrated.