Young dads are failing to read to their children, despite knowing it could help them at school, research has found.

Kiwi experts said the findings highlighted the continued existence of traditional family roles. Men were the main bread-winners in many relationships and spent less time with their kids.

The survey was commissioned by The Pearson Foundation and Penguin Groups.

It found mothers were almost 1 times more likely to read to their children every day than dads.

More than half of fathers aged 35-54 read to their little ones daily compared with 12 per cent of dads aged 18-34.

Almost 80 per cent of fathers noted that reading to their kids could help them in school.

Stefan Korn, from Wellington-based website, and Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds said most Kiwi dads worked longer hours than mothers.

Korn said dads could go to work earlier and get back in time to read a bedtime book or ask their partners to bring their children into work during the day.

Auckland father-of-two Tony Hamilton said dads who don't read to their kids are "missing out".

The part-time worker reads to his daughters Isabella, 3, and Olivia, 2, every morning, after lunch and sometimes at night.

He said they loved the pictures, stories and messages in books, and he loved bonding with his daughters.