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Early literacy activities

Question:
Do you have any information on the early literacy activities of young children?

Response:

Parents and other family members can engage in home literacy activities with their children in different ways, such as by reading; telling stories; teaching letters, words, or numbers; or visiting a library to promote literacy development. This Fast Fact presents parent-reported information on the extent to which 3- to 5-year-olds who are not yet enrolled in kindergarten engage with a family member in literacy activities at home.

Based on parent reports in 2016, many young children engaged in home literacy activities with members of their family. In the week before the survey was conducted, some 81 percent of children ages 3 to 5 not yet enrolled in kindergarten were read to by a family member three or more times, 84 percent were told a story by a family member at least once, and 97 percent were taught letters, words, or numbers by a family member at least once. Also, some 41 percent of children visited a library with a family member at least once in the month before the survey.

Family engagement in home literacy experiences was higher in 2016 than in 2001 for two types of activities: being taught letters, words, or numbers at least once in the past week (97 percent vs. 94 percent), and visiting a library at least once in the past month (41 percent vs. 36 percent). On the other hand, the percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet in kindergarten who were read to three or more times in the past week was lower in 2016 (81 percent) than in 2001 (84 percent). The percentages of children who were told a story at least once in the past week were not measurably different between 2001 and 2016.


Percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet enrolled in kindergarten, by type and frequency of activity: 2001 and 2016

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

NOTE: All information is based on parent reports. For National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES):2016, initial contact with all respondents was by mail, and the majority of respondents received paper-and-pencil questionnaires. Prior to 2012, NHES surveys were administered via telephone with an interviewer. Measurable differences in estimates between 2016 and prior years could reflect actual changes in the population, or the changes could be due to the mode change from telephone to mail. Although rounded numbers are displayed, figures are based on unrounded percentages.


When we examine the 2016 data by race/ethnicity, the percentage of White 3- to 5-year-olds not yet in kindergarten who were read to by a family member three or more times in the past week (88 percent) was not measurably different than the corresponding percentage for children of Two or more races, but was higher than the percentages for Black (79 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander (74 percent), and Hispanic (71 percent) children. The percentage of children who were told a story by a family member at least once in the past week was higher for those children who were Asian/Pacific Islander (88 percent) and White (86 percent) than for those who were Hispanic (78 percent). Similarly, the percentage of children who visited a library with a family member at least once in the past month was higher for those children who were Asian/Pacific Islander (49 percent) and White (44 percent) than for those who were Hispanic (33 percent). However, the percentage of children who were taught letters, words, or numbers at least once in the past week was not measurably different between children of any racial/ethnic groups.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2018).The Condition of Education 2018 (NCES 2018-144), Home Literacy Activities with Young Children.

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