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Family Reading

Children whose parents read to them become better readers and perform better in school (Snow, Burns, and Griffin 1998). Other family activities such as telling stories and singing songs also encourage children's acquisition of literacy skills (Moss and Fawcett 1995).

The percentage of children read to frequently by a family member (i.e., three or more times per week) increased from 78 percent in 1993 to 84 percent in 2001. There were also increases in the percentage of children whose family members frequently told them a story (from 43 to 54 percent), taught them letters, words, or numbers (from 58 to 74 percent), and taught them songs or music (from 41 to 54 percent).

Despite the increase in participation in literacy activities by all children regardless of their poverty levels, nonpoor children were more likely than poor children to engage frequently in certain literacy activities in 2001. For instance, 87 percent of nonpoor children were frequently read to by a family member, compared with 74 percent of poor children. However, in 2001, no relationship was found between poverty status and engaging in the two other literacy activities—teaching letters, words, or numbers or teaching songs or music.

The percentage of children who engaged in certain literacy activities in 2001 also varied by the child's race/ethnicity. White children were more likely than Black or Hispanic children to be read to or told a story frequently. They were also more likely than Hispanic children to be taught letters, words, or numbers. However, no differences were found in the percentage of Black, Hispanic, or White children who were taught songs or music.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2003). The Condition of Education 2003 (NCES 2003–067), Indicator 37.

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