Fostering the Language Skills of Children from Low-educated Families: An Ex-Ante Experimental Evaluation of a Parental Reading Initiative


Project Directors:

  • Carlo BARONE (Professor at Sciences-Po, OSC-LIEPP)
  • Denis FOUGERE (Research Director at CNRS, Co-Director of Educational Policies Research Group)
  • Agnès van ZANTEN (Research Director at CNRS, Co-Director of Educational Policies Research Group)

Associate researchers:

  • Clément PIN (Docteur en sociologie, assistant de recherche au LIEPP, Sciences Po)
  • Karine MARTEL (Maître de conférence, Université de Caen)


  • Académie de Paris (Paris school district)
  • Publishing houses: Gallimard Jeunesse and Turbulences Presse


This project obtained funding from LIEPP through the 2016 call for proposals.

The PIRLS study 2011 indicates that the average level of reading skills of French children is low and that social inequalities in reading skills are particularly strong in France. This project develops an intervention to foster the language skills of children from low-educated families. A few previous field experiments suggest that involving parents in reading activities with their children can improve the reading skills of the latter.

This project develops: a) a qualitative study based on interviews with parents and teachers concerning reading activities and attitudes towards reading; and b) a quantitative study based on a secondary analysis of the PIRLS data focussing on the relationship between family background, reading activities at home and children's reading skills. These two preliminary steps help us identify the main factors inhibiting parental reading among low-status families, thus leading to the third step: c) an experimental study to assess the impact of a parental reading initiative targeting children of pre-primary schools.