Developing an interest in reading early in life: an asset for academic success in high school

Montréal, November 15, 2016 – Today, the Institut de la statistique du Québec has unveiled a fascicule on reading motivation, produced with data drawn from the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD). This document reveals, among other things, that spending more time reading for pleasure leads to increased motivation, a feeling of competency and a higher academic performance among 15-year-old francophones. This holds true not only for classes in the language of instruction, but also in mathematics. The amount of time spent reading for pleasure rises in parallel with the mother’s level of education, but no difference was observed where family income was concerned.

Interest in reading begins prior to starting school

An analysis of the data collected since early childhood reveals that youth who would more frequently leaf through books on their own initiative as preschoolers (at roughly age 2½) had a higher average intrinsic reading motivation level in elementary school. Consequently, youth were more likely to enjoy reading, consider reading a pleasurable activity or read without any obligation to do so, regardless of language group. This higher level of reading motivation in elementary school is itself associated with better grades in the language of instruction at age 15. These findings were obtained after controlling the effects of other characteristics that could influence academic performance.

The children of allophone parents have a greater interest in reading in elementary school

The study also allows us to examine the link between the languages children are exposed to at an early age and their interest in reading in elementary school. Even after taking into account different characteristics, like socioeconomic environment and the level of success in reading in grade one, children living in a household where the language most often spoken by their parents was neither French nor English had a higher reading motivation level in elementary school than children in other linguistic groups. This could be indicative of the desire of students with allophone parents to master the language of instruction.

About the QLSCD

The QLSCD is a study conducted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec on a representative sample of children born in Québec in 1997–1998 who have been followed since about the age of 5 months. The primary goal of this survey is to understand the factors that, in early childhood, contribute to success or failure in the school system. Data collection has been funded by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, the Ministère de la Famille, the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, the Institut de la statistique du Québec, the CHU Sainte-Justine, IRSST and the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur.

The fascicule and other publications drawn from the QLSCD can be found under the Publications tab on the study website at:


The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for carrying out all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.


  • Hélène Desrosiers
    Coordonnatrice du Programme d’analyse et de valorisation des données longitudinales et coauteure
    Phone: 514-873-4749, Ext. 6110
  • Information and Documentation Centre
    Phone: 418-691-2401
    or 1-800-463-4090 (toll free in Canada and the United States)
  • Twitter account: