Poor, near-poor, and nonpoor children were more likely to participate in literacy activities in 2005 than in 1993.
Children whose parents read to them tend to 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 prekindergarten children ages 3–5 read to frequently by a family member (i.e., three or more times in the week preceding the survey) increased from 78 percent in 1993 to 86 percent in 2005 (see table 33-1). 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 77 percent); and taught them songs or music (from 41 to 54 percent).
All children regardless of poverty status were more likely to have an adult read to them frequently in 2005 than in 1993; however, the increase among poor children (from 68 to 78 percent) was greater than the increase among nonpoor children (from 87 to 90 percent). Despite the greater increase for poor children, nonpoor children were still more likely than poor children to have a family member read to them frequently in 2005 as was also the case in 1993. For example, in 2005, a greater percentage of nonpoor children were read to than poor children (90 vs. 78 percent). However, in 2005, there were no measurable differences found between nonpoor and poor children for the other three home literacy activities.
The percentage of children who engaged in certain literacy activities in 2005 varied by parents’ education and race/ethnicity. Children whose parents had at least a high school diploma or equivalent were more likely to be read to and taught letters, words, or numbers than those children whose parents had less than a high school diploma. White children were more likely than Black or Hispanic children to have a family member read to them. However, a greater percentage of Hispanic children than White children were taught songs or music.
Note 1: Commonly Used Variables
Note 3: Other Surveys
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