In this article we study how the frequency of book-reading - a form of legitimate culture - develops in the period from adolescence to young adulthood and how it is influenced by parents' education, parental reading socialization climate, school and their interactions. In disentangling parental and educational effects we contribute to the cultural reproduction-cultural mobility debate. We use multi-actor panel data on three cohorts of Dutch secondary school students (and their parents) who took part in a classroom survey between the ages of 14 and 17, and who participated in at least one of the follow-up surveys two, four and six years later. We find that the amount of book-reading is more strongly associated with education than with parents' reading socialization. The influence of parents increases slightly in the period from adolescence to young adulthood. Differences in reading behaviour between students of different educational programmes increase during secondary education, but decrease in the period after secondary schooling. The transition to tertiary education hardly affects the frequency of reading. Overall, the results are more in line with the cultural reproduction model than with the cultural mobility model. © The Author(s) 2012.