Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the predictors and frequency of book-sharing activities in a nationally representative sample of families with young children and to examine the extent to which parents report that pediatric health care providers are addressing early literacy activities.
Methods: This study analyzed data from the 2000 National Survey of Early Childhood Health (NSECH), a telephone survey of 2068 parents of children aged 4 to 35 months. Parents were queried about the frequency of reading with their child, whether their pediatric provider discussed reading in the past year, and, if not, whether a discussion of the importance of reading to their child would have been helpful. Descriptive statistics, bivariate analyses, and multivariate logistic regression to identify predictors of daily reading among parents of young children nationally were used.
Results: Approximately 52% of young children are reportedly read to every day by a parent. Significant predictors of daily reading include older child's age (19-35 months; odds ratio [OR]: 1.77; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.18-2.65, as compared with 4-9 months), maternal education greater than high school (OR: 2.00; 95% CI: 1.24-3.22), greater number of children's books in the home (OR: 1.01; 95% CI: 1.00-1.01), and discussion of reading by the pediatric provider (OR: 1.66; 95% CI: 1.23-2.24). Lower odds of daily reading are found for maternal full-time working status (OR: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.49-0.95), black race/ethnicity (OR: 0.61; 95% CI: 0.41-0.91), Hispanic race/ethnicity (OR: 0.56; 95% CI: 0.37-0.86), Spanish language-dominant parents (OR: 0.37; 95% CI: 0.22-0.62), and >1 child in the household (2 children OR: 0.68, 95% CI: 0.48-0.97; 3 children OR: 0.53, 95% CI: 0.35-0.82). Approximately 37% of parents of young children stated that their child's pediatric provider had not discussed reading with them. Nearly half (47%) of these parents indicated that they would have found such a discussion helpful.
Conclusions: Family context and daily reading routines are important for a child's early literacy development. This national study identifies how family characteristics and routines are associated with the family's literacy orientation. The analysis also indicates that a large percentage of parents with young children who do not read daily believe that it would be helpful to discuss the importance of reading with their child's pediatric provider.