What is it about?

Early maternal language to young children has been shown to be important for children's later learning. In this large representative rural sample of 1292 diverse children, early maternal language predicted children's literacy scores from pre-k through 5th grade.

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Why is it important?

This is the first large study to examine early maternal language to their child from 6 to 36 months of age in a large diverse sample of African American, White and families. Even after controlling for a variety of background factors, Mother's language to their child predicted child literacy over a 7 year period, suggesting how important early language input to children is for later development.


This is likely the only representative sample of every baby born to a mother in one of 6 poor rural counties, oversampling for African American and family low wealth. We controlled for many many background factors and still found that maternal language to the child predicted early language and later child literacy, even after 7 years.

Lynne Vernon-Feagans
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Early maternal language input and classroom instructional quality in relation to children’s literacy trajectories from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade., Developmental Psychology, March 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/dev0001080.
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