When it comes to reading at bedtime, Dad's stories tend to be more engaging and more enriching than Mom's. This difference appears to be one of reading style.

Moms tend to be more focused on the details in a book and ask their kids “teacher questions” such as, “How many apples do you see?” or to label or count objects or identify colors.

Dads, on the other hand, tend to ask more abstract questions and also are more likely to try to link the stories to real-life events. If a ladder appears in the story, they might ask, “Do you remember when I was standing on the ladder and fixing the roof?”

Drawing, solving puzzles and other activities can also help give children a head start on learning.

Because Dad's questions are more challenging, they make their children think harder. And this improves their learning ability.

Stories help children grow in many ways. Studies have consistently shown that reading to children improves their relationships, performance in school, resilience and emotional control.

To have the most benefit, dads should start reading to their children before the age of two recommends Harvard researcher Elisabeth Duursma.

While reading is important, Duursma notes that drawing, solving puzzles and other activities can also help give children a head start on learning. Her advice: “Bring out the play dough, puzzles, crayons and scissors to enjoy some quality time with your child while also building important skills for later.”

Dads' talent for reading doesn't mean they do everything well. “We still need to get more dads involved in making sure that they know how important they are in their young child's life. Even the smallest things — changing a diaper, feeding, just talking to a child — really can make a significant difference. When there's an involved, engaged father, children will thank them later for it. It's a lifetime commitment, but also a lifetime reward,” Duursma says.

The study was presented at the Early Start Conference held in Wollongong, Australia.