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This study was designed to provide information on how families from different sociocultural backgrounds help with reading at home, and shed light on the types of helping strategy which tend to be most successful. A further aim was to investigate possible mechanisms through which a home reading project might lead to significant reading gains.

Parents from four main target groups were visited at home and interviewed about the help which family members gave with educational activities. The groups involved were middle class families (N=30), working class families (N=40), families from largely low SES areas who had participated in a Paired Reading project a year before (N=30) and families of Asian origin (N=50). About 100 recordings were taken of home reading sessions and these were analysed in terms of parental correction strategies and interaction.

Analysis of data revealed significant differences in the helping styles adopted by the various groups and indicated that success in reading was associated with a parental helping style which emphasised comprehension and interest. The results are discussed in terms of implications for home reading projects.