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The home literacy environment ( HLE ) predicts language and reading development in typically developing children; relatively little is known about its association with literacy development in children at family-risk of dyslexia. We assessed the HLE at age 4 years, precursor literacy skills at age 5, and literacy outcomes at age 6, in a sample of children at family-risk of dyslexia ( n = 116 ) and children with no known risk ( n = 72 ). Developmental relationships between the HLE and literacy were comparable between the groups; an additional effect of storybook exposure on phoneme awareness was observed in the family-risk group only. The effects of socioeconomic status on literacy were partially mediated by variations in the HLE; in turn, effects of the HLE on literacy were mediated by precursor skills ( oral language, phoneme awareness, and emergent decoding ) in both groups. Findings are discussed in terms of possible gene–environment correlation mechanisms underpinning atypical literacy development.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access


© Lorna G. Hamilton, Marianna E. Hayiou-Thomas, Charles Hulme, and Margaret J. Snowling. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.