I had the privilege of attending a very enlightening session as I ended my time at NBCDI’s 45th Annual Conference. The session focus was Black Fathers.
First, there was a screening of clips from the documentary, Daddy’s Here that celebrates Black Fathers (whether they live with their child or not) and helps to dispel the negative messages about Black Fathers - providing a new narrative.
Next, we were introduced to the members of a panel that shared their story and the work in which they are involved.
Through the panel members, I was informed about a research project of Black teen fathers, a White House initiative, a son that had to come to terms with forgiving his Father, a program helping men to navigate the barriers and obstacles as they try to be in their children’s lives, and a young photographer excited to be a Father even though he’s no longer in a relationship with the Mother of his child.
Before leaving the session I introduced myself to one of the panel members and we chatted for a few minutes about the importance of literacy and sharing that information with the young Black fathers in his program. We exchanged cards with the intent to meet soon.
As I ate lunch with my hubby and excitedly recapped the session we started talking about the absence of his Dad and the impact it had on his behavior and his relationship with his children. All of his children. I think I see a Black Male Summit for our own “Special Family” in the works.
This session got me to thinking just as the impact is felt when Black fathers are not present, Black fathers can also impact the reading behaviors of their children. African American fathers who engaged in more frequent shared book reading, telling stories, singing songs, and provided more children's books in their homes at 24 months had children with better reading and math scores in preschool.
I’m also finding as I work on my own project promoting reading among Black boys in elementary school, many adult Black males need to adjust their thinking and view themselves as “readers” regardless of the materials they have chosen to read. Increasing their amount of time spent reading for pleasure will also have an impact.
Research shows when fathers consciously read for pleasure in front of or with their boys, the boys motivation for reading increased significantly (it also had an affect on girls).
Just as the presenters at today’s profound session on Black fathers was shared to create a new narrative, to do things differently…I also hope my sharing of information about reading for Black children will lead to doing things differently in our community.
And I’ll end with the words from one special father, grandson Xzavier said, “Nana Judi when I tell you they want to read every night now I’m not kidding…I’m going to have to get a bookshelf soon. And Lil’ Xzavier’s vocabulary is improving drastically.”
It doesn’t get any better than that! Black Dads Matter.
See you next Wednesday!