Reading at Home Increases School Readiness

Reading books with parents is an example of “home learning,” which a new paper shows can improve low-income children’s readiness for school. The study, published in Child Development by researchers from New York University, surveyed 1,850 children age 0-5 whose households were living at or below the federal poverty line. They found that differences in a child’s home learning environment predicted his or her school readiness. Children who weren’t exposed to literary activities or learning materials at home were more likely to have delays in language and reading skills in pre-kindergarten.

“…This work highlights the importance of targeting children’s learning environments early in development. By the start of the 2nd year (15 months), the experiences parents provide their children may be solidified into patterns of engagement that will either continue to support or impede children’s emerging skills,” wrote the study’s authors.

For more information:

  • Read the entire study here (pdf)

New Study Shows Reading Level in Grade 3 Crucial to Future Success

From the American Educational Research Association (AERA) convention in New Orleans: A new study by Hunter College’s Donald Hernandez shows third grade reading proficiency is a strong predictor of graduation rates. According to Education Week’s Inside School Research blog, which has been covering the AERA convention, Hernandez’ study shows, “A student who can’t read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time. Add poverty to the mix, and a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer.”

UPDATE: The study, “Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation,” has been posted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation here.

For more information:

  • Read EdWeek’s coverage of the study here
  • More information about the AERA convention

ReadBoston & Farragut Elementary Celebrate African-American Heroes

Our last blog post described Sacha Pfeiffer’s interview on WBUR with Rick Weissbourd, the founder of ReadBoston. This literacy initiative has offered exciting opportunities to students at one City Connects school, Farragut Elementary, located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston.

Today, students at the Farragut will take part in a “Celebration of African-American Heroes.” Guest speakers from Boston hospitals will read stories to students, who are encouraged to come to school dressed as a famous African-American leader. As part of the event, students will choose a book to keep and to read at home over the school vacation.

In another event earlier this year, author Irene Smalls came to the school to read to students. Students also got to hear Boston Celtics players read at a third event through the NBA Read to Achieve program, partly sponsored by ReadBoston. The Farragut school applied to ReadBoston for a grant to help fund these activities.

“This has been a great opportunity for kids to take part in fun events that generate excitement about reading,” said Georgia Butler, the City Connects School Site Coordinator at the Farragut. “We’re glad to have this excellent partnership.”

For more information:

Improving Mothers Literary Skills May Boost Achievement of Children

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health reports that a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success–even greater than neighborhood or family income. The authors, from the University of Michigan and UCLA, conclude that programs to boost academic achievement of children in low-income neighborhoods would be more successful if they also provide literary education to parents. Published in Demography, the study also shows that after mother’s reading level, the next determinant of a child’s academic achievement is the neighborhood income level.

“The findings indicate that programs to improve maternal literacy skills may provide an effective means to overcome the disparity in academic achievement between children in poor and affluent neighborhoods,” said Rebecca Clark, PhD, chief of the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the NIH institute that funded the study.

For more information:

  • Read the press release from the  NIH
  • Follow the NIH on Twitter @NIHforHealth (see the  NIH’s many Twitter accounts/feeds here)

Meta-analysis Shows Giving Children Books Improves Reading

In a meta-analysis of 11,000 reports and 108 studies, a new report commissioned by Reading is Fundamental concludes that children’s book lending and ownership programs lead to positive behavioral, educational, and psychological outcomes. The study, Children’s Access to Print Materials and Education-Related Outcomes,  conducted by Learning Point Associates, found that access to print materials:

  • Improves children’s reading performance: Kindergarten students showed the biggest increase in reading performance.
  • Are instrumental in helping children learn the basics of reading: Providing children with reading materials allowed them to develop basic reading skills such as letter and word identification, phonemic awareness, and completion of sentences.
  • Causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time: Giving children print materials leads them to read more frequently and for greater amounts of time.
  • Produces improved attitudes toward reading and learning: When children have greater access to books and other print materials–through either borrowing books or receiving books to own-they develop more positive attitudes toward reading and learning.

They meta-analysis also found positive relationships between access to books and motivation to and interest in reading; writing performance; language development; and academic performance in subjects other than reading after performance.

For more information:

  • Read the EdWeek Inside School Research blog coverage