© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.Emergent literacy is an umbrella term that encompasses developmental precursor skills, knowledge, and attitudes related to reading and writing. Previous studies have focused on the cognitive aspects of reading, such as word recognition, phonological awareness, and comprehension. However, reading is also an activity that requires effort and involves motivation and attitudes. These affective dimensions are given little attention in the literature on children’s literacy development. To fill this gap, this study investigates preliterate preschoolers’ attitudes toward reading in relation to gender, maternal factors, and home literacy environment. The sample included 261 parents and their 5 year-old children. The data were collected using a preschool reading attitudes scale, a home literacy environment questionnaire, and a parent survey. The findings reveal that gender, time spent watching television, and computer use were unrelated to children’s reading attitudes. However, children’s home literacy environment, the number of books in their household, and maternal reading attitudes and reading habits were significantly related, accounting for 62% of the variance in children’s reading attitudes. These results suggest mothers are role models for children’s attitudes regarding direct literacy experiences and affective responses to reading. Investigating the contribution made by early home literacy experiences to reading attitudes and early literacy skills allows an understanding of how cognitive and motivational factors are involved in the learning-to-read process.