Predictors and outcomes of low-income fathers' reading with their toddlers

Elisabeth Duursma, Barbara Alexander Pan, Helen Raikes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Most studies of parent-child bookreading have focused on mothers reading to their children. Though the role of fathers in children's lives is widely emphasized, we know almost nothing about father-child bookreading, particularly among low-income families. The present study was designed to examine how often low-income fathers report reading to their children and what the predictors and effects of paternal bookreading are. The fathers in this study were participants in the national evaluation of Early Head Start (EHS) and were recruited via mothers enrolled in the EHS study. Participating fathers were interviewed at home and their children's cognitive and language development were assessed using standardized measures from ages 2 to 5. Results demonstrated a wide variety in frequency of bookreading among fathers. Fathers were more likely to read to their children frequently if they spoke English at home, if they had a high school education, and if their children had better language skills. Fathers' bookreading predicted children's cognitive outcome. Paternal bookreading did predict children's language outcomes but only for children whose fathers had at least a high school education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-365
Number of pages15
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Bookreading
  • Cognitive development
  • Early Head Start
  • Fathers
  • Language development
  • Low-income families

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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