In the lower-income neighborhoods of Oakland, Calif., 70 percent of parents read to their young children at least three days a week, according to a survey of 420 parents conducted in the spring by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, a local philanthropy.
The survey covered five Oakland neighborhoods. One of them, North Oakland, is increasingly white and middle class. The others are predominately working class to poor. The differences in the responses between neighborhoods were pronounced enough that the surveyors separated the North Oakland responses in several calculations. For example, 93 percent of North Oaklanders read to their children daily, compared with 70 percent for other communities.
Setting North Oakland aside, low-income parents listed more positive parenting behaviors than they are often given credit for. More than 70 percent said they hugged their children, told them they loved them, and tucked them in at night seven days a week. Sixty-eight percent said they went to the library several times a month. More than half had 10 or more children’s books at home.
But the parents in the neighborhoods outside North Oakland were also more likely to have misconceptions about which activities are most helpful for young children. A third of them—but none of the North Oakland parents—mistakenly thought letting a toddler read the same book over and over would keep the child from learning new words.
A version of this article appeared in the September 07, 2016 edition of Education Week as Early Learning