How Does Parental Reading Influence Children’s Reading? A Study of Cognitive Mediation

Elsje van Bergen*, Dorothy Bishop, Titia L. Van Zuijen, Peter F. de Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Cognitive processes underlying a behavioural outcome (like reading ability) and the impact of familial risk (e.g., for dyslexia) have been studied in isolation. We present a novel design, linking the two avenues. How do familial influences impact on children’s cognitive skills, which subsequently underlie reading development? Participants from the Familial Influences on Literacy Abilities (FIOLA) Project included 373 children and their parents. We considered three causal routes from parental reading and children’s putative cognitive endophenotypes to children’s reading. Path analyses showed that half of parental effects on children’s reading bypassed and half operated through children’s cognitive underpinnings. Spousal correlation was small but significant. Findings do not support a strong hypothesis of cognitive endophenotypes with full mediation. Furthermore, we discuss the use of parental skills as a proxy for offspring’s liability. Finally, familial reading difficulties are not fully accounted for by known cognitive skills, which has implications for dyslexia diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-339
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Studies of Reading
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2015


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