A new survey reveals children are missing out on vital vocabularly exposure as only six per cent of Kiwi dads are regularly reading to their children.
Massey University researcher Tom Nicholson says this statistic needs to improve as dads story-tell differently to mums, which equips children with a wider vocabularly for school.
"Dads actually use a more complex vocabulary than mums. They're more directive and more informative than mums."
They have different experiences and talk in a different way so it's important they read to kids, he says.
Mr Nicholson told TV ONE's Breakfast that research shows this helps kids to get ahead at school.
The survey, which was conducted by Paper Plus, shows less than half of dads read to their children at all, and if they do it is only once a week.
Many families think when children start school at five years old it will sort out their reading ability, Mr Nicholson says.
"However it's a reading race. It all starts really early almost from one year of age."
Mr Nicholson advises dads to find a book that interests them and to use expression when reading to children.
"Dads need to know to change voice for different characters and say the opening line really good to grab their attention. They need to read slow down at the end to show kids the end has arrived," he said.