The effect of parents' literacy skills and children's preliteracy skills on the risk of dyslexia

Elsje Van Bergen*, Peter F. De Jong, Ben A M Maassen, Aryan van der Leij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The combination of investigating child and family characteristics sheds light on the constellation of risk factors that can ultimately lead to dyslexia. This family-risk study examines plausible preschool risk factors and their specificity. Participants (N∈=∈196, 42 % girls) included familial risk (FR) children with and without dyslexia in Grade 3 and controls. First, we found impairments in phonological awareness, rapid naming, and letter knowledge in FR kindergartners with later dyslexia, and mild phonological-awareness deficits in FR kindergartners without subsequent dyslexia. These skills were better predictors of reading than arithmetic, except for rapid naming. Second, the literacy environment at home was comparable among groups. Third, having a dyslexic parent and literacy abilities of the non-dyslexic parent related to offspring risk of dyslexia. Parental literacy abilities might be viewed as indicators of offspring's liability for literacy difficulties, since parents provide offspring with genetic and environmental endowment. We propose an intergenerational multiple deficit model in which both parents confer cognitive risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1200
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


  • Arithmetic
  • Dyslexia
  • Familial risk (FR)
  • Intergenerational
  • Longitudinal
  • Parent-child resemblance
  • Reading


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