Study: Mother’s Reading Skill Boosts Children’s Achievement

From Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (


Programs to boost academic achievement of children from low income neighborhoods could improve by providing adult literacy education to parents, according to researchers funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


A mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, outweighing other factors such as neighborhood and family income, researchers concluded. Neighborhood income ranked second overall in determining academic success and had the largest impact among children ages 8 to 17.


“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, Ph.D., chief of the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


“Policy measures to encourage mixed-income neighborhoods, improve early childhood education, and build mothers’ reading skills each could have positive effects on children’s achievement scores,” said researcher Narayan Sastry, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan.


The report appears in Demography magazine. Find an abstract at

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