Child Indicators Research

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 321–344 | Cite as

Does Reading to Children Enhance their Educational Success?

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Reading to Children in Early Childhood on their Language Abilities, Reading Behavior and School Marks
  • Oliver KleinEmail author
  • Irena Kogan


Drawing on two unique German datasets, we explore the possible short- and long-term effects that reading aloud in early childhood has on children’s language abilities, their reading behavior, and their school marks in kindergarten and at the end of both primary and secondary school. By applying propensity score matching, we found a positive effect of reading on the language abilities of preschool children and of students at the end of primary school. Additionally, a high frequency of reading to children in early childhood positively affects their own reading behavior. However, differences in reading in early childhood appear to be unrelated to school marks in the subject of German language at the end of primary school. Furthermore, we found no long-term effects of reading among secondary school leavers. Overall, our results confirm positive immediate and mid-term effects, but hardly any long-term effects, of reading to children during their early childhood.


Reading aloud Language abilities Reading behavior School marks Propensity score matching 



First and foremost, we would like to thank the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for funding our research and the collection of the data used in this study. We would also like to express our heartfelt thanks to Michael Gebel, Clemens Kroneberg and Harald Beier for their helpful comments and advice on an earlier draft of the paper. Furthermore, we would like to acknowledge the useful comments that we received when presenting the paper at the “Research on Family Demography and Children’s Lives: Future Directions and Infrastructures” conference in Stockholm. Finally we would like to thank the anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MannheimMannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES)MannheimGermany

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