We examined the relation between home literacy environment (HLE) and early literacy development in a sample of children learning four alphabetic orthographies varying in orthographic consistency (English, Dutch, German, and Greek). Seven hundred and fourteen children were followed from Grade 1 to Grade 2 and tested on emergent literacy skills (vocabulary, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness) at the beginning of Grade 1 and on word reading fluency and spelling at the end of Grade 1, the beginning of Grade 2, and the end of Grade 2. Their parents responded to a questionnaire assessing HLE [parent teaching (PT), shared book reading (SBR), access to literacy resources (ALR)] at the beginning of Grade 1. Results showed first that PT was associated with letter knowledge or phonological awareness in Dutch and Greek, while ALR was associated with emergent literacy skills in all languages. SBR did not predict any cognitive or early literacy skills in any language. Second, PT and ALR had indirect effects on literacy outcomes via different emergent literacy skills in all languages. These findings suggest that not all HLE components are equally important for emergent literacy skills, reading fluency, and spelling. No specific trend in the role of orthographic consistency in the aforementioned relations emerged, which suggests that other factors may account for the observed differences across languages when children start receiving formal reading instruction in Grade 1.
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- emergent literacy skills
- home literacy environment
- orthographic transparency
- reading fluency