A new study has found that the neighbourhoods which children grow up in influence their reading skills several years later.
The study from the University of British Columbia has found that children who spent the early part of their life in neighbourhoods with higher rates of poverty score less on standardized tests seven years later, when they are in Grade 7.
Lead researcher Jennifer Lloyd of UBC's Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), said: "Our findings suggest that it's not necessarily where children live later in life that matters for understanding literacy in early adolescence - it's where they lived years earlier.
"Children's reading comprehension may be set on a negative course early in life if children and their families are living in resource-deprived places."
As part of the study, Lloyd collected Grade 7 Foundation Skills Assessment data for 2,648 urban British Columbia children and socioeconomic data describing the children's residential neighbourhoods at both time points.
The experts noted a "delayed effect" of the residential environments in which children grow up.
Those who lived in neighbourhoods with a higher socioeconomic status at kindergarten age scored better on the Grade 7 FSA than children who came from poorer neighbourhoods.
Lloyd concluded: "Sadly, our findings demonstrate the lasting effect of neighbourhood poverty on children's reading comprehension - highlighting that children's literacy is not simply an important issue for parents, but also for community leaders and policy makers alike."
The study has been published in this week's journal Health and Place.