Many studies over the years have indicated that socio-economic conditions have a strong bearing on a child's level of attainment at school. But this isn't the whole story. A 2013 study by academics at the University of London Institute of Education shows the importance of reading for pleasure, and demonstrates the way that a positive reading culture - at home and at school - can influence progress in learning vocabulary, spelling and even maths. The study, which followed a sample group of 6,000 individuals, found that children who read for pleasure often at age 10, and read books and newspapers more than once a week at age 16, gain an advantage equivalent to 14.4% in vocabulary, 9.9% in maths, and 8.6% in spelling by the time they are 16. The study was adjusted to take account of parental social background and parents’ own reading behaviour. Interestingly the influence of reading for pleasure was greater than that for having a parent with a degree, although parental education was a positive factor (giving a 4.2% advantage in vocabulary), and was a more important influence than parental economic resources - which were measured on the basis of social class, income and home ownership.
'Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: the role of reading', Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown, September 2013, first published by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, University of London