Blog Tour: Guest Post & Giveaway - Toni Buzzeo

Toni Buzzeo's new book - Just Like My Papa (Disney-Hyperion, April 2, 2013) was released in time for Father's Day.  Toni stops by today to talk about the importance of fathers reading with their children.  Thanks Toni for sharing with us.

There’s something so magical, so heart-touching, about a father engaged in nurturing his child. Perhaps it’s because in so many species, the father disappears after conception, not lingering to share in the child rearing duties or joys. And perhaps nothing is more touching to my own heart than seeing a father reading to his little one. Of course, as a school librarian and a children’s author, that would be so! I’m passionate about children and their reading.

Ken reading to Topher 1984 - photo credit Toni Buzzeo
My own son Topher, who once filled one of his two allotted duffel bags for a month-long African safari with books, is proof to me that reading fathers beget young readers. Not only did my husband Ken always have a book or two and several magazines going, but he spent long hours reading book after book to our son. You’ll have predicted, of course, that Topher has grown up to be a devoted adult reader who will soon be reading to his own little ones.

In fact, I especially recommend that fathers read to their children. There are so many reasons to do so! First, of course, is the physical closeness of snuggling up with a book. Second is the modeling of reading in a shared experience with the child. Third is the opportunity to share the world of the stories and informational texts that are read, to engage in conversations about the reading. Fourth, discussion of the shared books will foster critical thinking skills and build vocabulary. All this from the joyful experience of sharing books. What father could resist?

Of course, reading takes time. As any parent who has tried to rush through a bedtime story by skipping pages knows, reading in a hurry is destined for failure. Instead, reading requires a commitment to slow down, sit down, sink in, and give oneself over to the power of story and the shared experience of that story. Yet much like Papa Lion in my new book Just Like My Papa, fathers have other responsibilities that take up their time. What’s the solution?

Papa Lion has actually found a pretty successful solution. First, model the behavior you hope to inspire as often as possible. Young Kito watches his father with an eagle eye as he performs the duties of king and protector of his pride and emulates them to the best of his ability. So fathers, do your own personal reading publicly in your home. Let your children see you reading. Second, whenever possible, take as much time as you can find to settle in for shared reading. Young Kito approaches Papa with an invitation to play and Papa responds patiently and positively to his repeated requests. So fathers, when your child appears with one book, prepare to read several, one right after the other. Third, encourage children, even pre-readers, to spend time alone with books as well. While Papa is busy with his kingly duties, Kito emulates his behavior. So, too, will children of reading fathers!

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads reading this blog. May your children always admire you as much as Kito admires his father!

Next stop on the blog tour: As They Grow UP -

Toni Buzzeo - photo credit Sasha Salzberg
Bio: Toni Buzzeo is the author of nineteen picture books for children, including Stay Close to Mama, a companion to Just Like My Papa, the Caldecott Honor winning One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small, and No T. Rex in the Library, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa. For sixteen years, she worked as a Maine school librarian. She combines her knowledge of children’s literature with her love of children to write about characters of all stripes (including lions, giraffes, dinosaurs, penguins, loons, and human children) who explore their worlds, their relationships, and themselves in a variety of settings. Toni works both from a writing cottage just past the gardens at her colonial farmhouse in Buxton, Maine and from her sunny winter nest in Sarasota, Florida. Visit her at

Disney-Hyperion is offering a copy of Just Like My Papa by Toni Buzzeo to one lucky reader.  This giveaway is open to individuals with US or Canadian mailing addresses. a Rafflecopter giveaway