Family characteristics' links to literacy learning and their differences across macrosystems (economic and cultural contexts) were explored in multilevel analyses of the reading tests and questionnaire responses of 193,841 fifteen-year-olds across 41 countries. Students who had two parents, had higher family socioeconomic status (SES), were native born, had more books at home, had more cultural possessions at home, had more cultural communication at home, had no resident grandparents, or had fewer siblings (especially older ones) often had higher reading scores. However, country-level factors moderated these results. In richer countries, blended families (one parent and one stepparent) and cultural communication at home were more strongly linked to reading scores. In egalitarian cultures, SES had a stronger link to reading scores. In collectivist cultures, single parent status, SES, and resident grandparents had weaker links to reading scores. Thus, macrosystems are crucial to consider for understanding how family characteristics might impact reading achievement. Copyright © 2010 Society for the Scientific Study of Reading.