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The home literacy environment is a well-established predictor of children's language and literacy development. We investigated whether formal, informal, and indirect measures of the home literacy environment predict children's reading and language skills once maternal language abilities are taken into account. Data come from a longitudinal study of children at high risk of dyslexia (N = 251) followed from preschool years. Latent factors describing maternal language were significant predictors of storybook exposure but not of direct literacy instruction. Maternal language and phonological skills respectively predicted children's language and reading/spelling skills. However, after accounting for variations in maternal language, storybook exposure was not a significant predictor of children's outcomes. In contrast, direct literacy instruction remained a predictor of children's reading/spelling skills. We argue that the relationship between early informal home literacy activities and children's language and reading skills is largely accounted for by maternal skills and may reflect genetic influences.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Stud Read

Publication Date





498 - 514