National Literacy Trust Research Summary: fathers’ impact on their children’s literacy

15 September 2009

The National Literacy Trust has published an international review of the literature looking at the impact of fathers’ involvement in their children’s education and outcomes, focussing particularly on children’s literacy practices.

Key findings

  • fathers’ impact on children’s literacy outcomes is poorly researched, probably because studies have tended to focus on mother-child interactions
  • fathers’ reading habits can have substantial influence on their children’s ability to read, their levels of interest and their reading choices (e.g. in a recent NLT study children and young people said fathers were the second most important person to inspire reading, second only to mothers)
  • lack of male role models in reading and other literacy-related activities during children’s early years may help to explain boys’ underperformance in literacy compared to girls’
  • whilst mothers and fathers generally communicate with their children in similar ways, fathers tend to use more challenging vocabulary such as abstract words.

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