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Indicators

This is a supplemental indicator. Unlike core indicators, which, for the most part, are updated yearly, supplemental indicators may only be updated periodically.

Home Literacy Activities with Young Children
(Last Updated: May 2018)

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).

Literacy development begins early, long before children enter formal instruction in reading and writing (Nord, Lennon, Liu, and Chandler, 2000).1 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 indicator 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.


Figure 1. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet enrolled in kindergarten, by type and frequency of activity: 2001 and 2016

Figure 1. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet enrolled in kindergarten, by type and frequency of activity: 2001 and 2016



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.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Program Participation Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (ECPP-NHES:2001 and 2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 207.10.


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.


Figure 2. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet enrolled in kindergarten, by type and frequency of activity and child's race/ethnicity: 2016

Figure 2. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet enrolled in kindergarten, by type and frequency of activity and child's race/ethnicity: 2016



NOTE: All information is based on parent reports. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data for American Indian/Alaska Native were not included because reporting standards were not met. Although rounded numbers are displayed, figures are based on unrounded percentages.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Program Participation Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (ECPP-NHES: 2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 207.10.


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.


Figure 3. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet enrolled in kindergarten, by type and frequency of activity and mother's highest level of education: 2016

Figure 3. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet enrolled in kindergarten, by type and frequency of activity and mother's highest level of education: 2016



NOTE: All information is based on parent reports. Excludes children living in households with no mother or female guardian present. Although rounded numbers are displayed, figures are based on unrounded percentages.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Program Participation Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (ECPP-NHES: 2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 207.10.


Families' participation in home literacy activities in 2016 was generally higher for children whose mothers had a bachelor's2 or a graduate/professional degree than for those whose mothers did not complete high school or only had completed high school.3 For example, the percentage of 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 was 91 percent for children whose mothers had a graduate/professional degree and 90 percent for children whose mothers had a bachelor's degree, compared with 79 percent for children whose mothers only had completed high school and 61 percent for children whose mothers did not complete high school. Similarly, the percentage of children who visited a library with a family member at least once in the past month was higher for children whose mothers had a graduate/professional degree (56 percent) or bachelor's degree (47 percent) than for those whose mothers only had completed high school (35 percent) or did not complete high school (27 percent). However, the percentage of children who were taught letters, words, or numbers at least once in the past week did not differ measurably by mother's highest level of education.


Figure 4. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet enrolled in kindergarten, by type and frequency of activity and family income: 2016

Figure 4. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds not yet enrolled in kindergarten, by type and frequency of activity and family income: 2016



NOTE: All information is based on parent reports. Family's income is reported in current dollars. Although rounded numbers are displayed, figures are based on unrounded percentages.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Program Participation Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (ECPP-NHES: 2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 207.10.


When we examine these data by family income, the percentages of children ages 3 to 5 not yet enrolled in kindergarten who were read to by a family member three or more times in the past week in 2016 were higher for children whose family income was over $100,000 (90 percent) and $75,001 to $100,000 (88 percent) than for children whose family income was $20,001 to $50,000 (76 percent) and $20,000 or less (70 percent). Also, the percentage of children who visited a library with a family member at least once in the past month was higher for children whose family income was over $100,000 (48 percent) than for children whose family income was $20,001 to $50,000 (35 percent). The percentage of children who were told a story by a family member at least once in the past week and the percentage of children who were taught letters, words, or numbers at least once in the past week did not differ by family income.


1 Nord, C.W., Lennon, J., Liu, B., and Chandler, K. (2000). Home Literacy Activities and Signs of Children's Emerging Literacy, 1993 and 1999 (NCES 2000-026). U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
2 Includes those with some graduate school but no graduate/professional degree.
3 Includes those who completed a GED.


Data Source