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Genetic Influence on Literacy Constructs in Kindergarten and First Grade: Evidence from a Diverse Twin Sample

Historically, twin research on reading has been conducted on older children and the generalizability of results across racial/ethnic/socioeconomic groups is unclear. To address these gaps, early literacy skills were examined among 1,401 twin pairs in kindergarten and 1,285 twin pairs in first grade (ages 5–7). A multi-group analysis was conducted separately for subsamples defined by neighborhood income while controlling for race/ethnicity within each grade. Substantial additive genetic and shared environmental effects were found for early literacy skills measured in kindergarten. In first grade, variance in early reading was associated with large additive genetic effects for middle and high neighborhood income twins, but shared environmental influence was substantial for low neighborhood income twins. Results suggest that the etiological architecture of some early literacy skills may differ across economic contexts.

from Behavior Genetics