Home Literacy Activities in Latino Immigrant Families: Contributions to Toddlers’ Expressive and Receptive Language Skills

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The development of language is a critical component of early childhood, enabling children to communicate their wishes and desires, share thoughts, and build meaning through linguistic interactions with others. A wealth of research has highlighted the importance of children’s early home experiences in fostering language development. This literature emphasizes the importance of a stimulating and supportive home environment in which children are engaged in literacy activities such as reading, telling stories, or singing songs with their parents. This study examined the association between low-income Latino immigrant mothers’ and fathers’ home literacy activities and their children’s receptive and expressive language skills. It also examined the moderating influence of maternal (i.e., reading quality and language quality) and child (engagement during reading, interest in literacy activities) characteristics on this association. This study included observational mother-child reading interactions, child expressive and receptive language assessments, and mother- and father-reported survey data. Controlling for parental education, multiple regression analyses revealed a positive association between home literacy activities and children’s receptive and expressive language skills. The findings also revealed that mothers’ reading quality and children’s engagement during reading (for expressive language skills only) moderated this association. Findings from this study will help inform new interventions, programs, and policies that build on Latino families’ strengths.