What *Really* Makes Kids Good Readers

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“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”  – Emilie Buchwald

Caroline Snow and her associates at Harvard University did a long-term study on home factors affecting literacy. Here are the factors that encourage childhood reading, ranked in order of their effect:

L 1. Home “literacy” environment: books, newspapers, attitudes

2. Mother’s educational expectations of the child

3. Mother’s own education

4. Parent-child interaction

The father’s expectations and background apparently had little effect on reading, according to the study, but they were important in promoting the child’s development of writing skills.

Other researchers have found that fathers are better at actually helping their children read because they are less patient. When a child comes across an unfamiliar word, fathers are more likely to tell the child the word or tell her to skip it entirely. Dad’s approach keeps the story moving along.

— From “Raising a Reader,” by Paul Kropp


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