Fathers write children's stories to share

Eight fathers who attend a dads' group have written a book of children's stories to be given out free to fathers and encourage them to read to their children.

The fathers met at the group Dads' Time in Croydon, London. They wrote the book after attending a storybook project as part of the Government-funded Every Child a Talker project.

The book, Dads' Time Tales, has been produced with funding from the Croydon Adult Learning and Training Service and the Pre-school Learning Alliance. It will be distributed free within the borough.

Brendan Ruddle, who wrote Pokey the Cat, one of the stories in the book, said, 'I had a bit of inspiration and my peers were doing it, so I thought why not. It is about a knight and his niece Sadie, who gets kidnapped by a baddie, so the knight goes to save her and he is helped by Pokey the Cat.'

Mr Ruddle has been coming to Dads' Time with his daughter Sadie, now two years old, since she was born.

'I am 51 so I am a bit of a late starter, so I thought it would be good to meet some other dads,' he said. 'I work all week, so it gives me a chance to spend some quality time with Sadie and talk to other fathers as well.'

Dads' Time started six years ago and more than 40 fathers now regularly attend.

However, its future is in doubt because the Pre-School Learning Alliance has had its funding cut and will no longer be able to employ the male workers who run the group.

But Mr Ruddle said the group is determined to continue. 'We are still trying to come up with different options and we are going to see if we can get private funding.'

Jill Shay, deputy manager of family support at Croydon Pre-school Learning Alliance, called the group 'vital'. She said,' It has given the dads confidence to engage in family-learning activities and learn ways to support their children's development.'

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