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Gottfried, A. W., Schlackman, J., Gottfried, A. E., & Martinez, A. S. (2015). Parental provision of early literacy environment as related to reading and educational outcomes across the academic life-span. Parenting: Science and Practice, 15, 24-38.
In a longitudinal study spanning 28-years, this research examined the long-term effect of children’s home literacy environment during infancy and early childhood on their subsequent reading intrinsic motivation and reading achievement from childhood through adolescence, and educational attainment during adulthood. Literacy environment was assessed from infancy through preschool with the amount of time mothers read to their children and the number of books and reading materials in the home. Analyzing the data using structual equation modeling, literacy environment was examined as related to children’s reading intrinsic motivation (measured with the Reading scale of the CAIMI) and reading achievement across childhood through adolescence, and educational attainment during adulthood. Results demonstrated that it was the amount of time mothers spent reading to their children, not the number of books and reading materials in the home, that was significantly related to reading intrinsic motivation, reading achievement, and educational attainment. Specifically, when mothers spent more time reading to their children across infancy through early childhood, their children’s reading intrinsic motivation and reading achievement were also significantly higher across childhood through adolescence. In turn, higher reading intrinsic motivation and reading achievement were significantly related to educational attainment during adulthood. These findings occurred above and beyond mothers’ educational level. Reading to children during infancy and early childhood proved to have significant and positive long-term benefits for children’s reading intrinsic motivation, reading achievement, and adulthood educational attainment that extended across the academic life-span from childhood through adulthood. The specific experience of being read to during the early years has long-term educational benefits that traverse the academic life-span through its relationships with reading intrinsic motivation and reading achievement. Implications for practice are that parental reading to children is a significant factor that needs to be encouraged as early as infancy. It is of paramount importance to disseminate this knowledge to parents (mothers and fathers as well as other caregivers) and develop methods and practices that encourage them to read on their own accord to their young children as those parents who do so voluntarily are likely to continuously furnish and support literacy engagement activities. This research extends Dr. Gottfried's research program on the role of parental involvement and home environment, in the development of children's academic intrinsic motivation.