A study published in Psychological Science says that children's habits are largely determined by their genes. This is especially true in determining if a child would be an avid reader.
"Children don't come into this world as clay to be molded," said Phillip Dale, professor and chair of the Communication Science and Disorders Department in the School of Health Professions. "They do have their own interests because there is a genetic component." The study used data from more than 6,000 children who took part in the Twins' Early Development Study (TEDS). The longitudinal study has collected data for the first year and is ongoing. The study found that both environment and genes played a crucial role in determining the child's leanings towards reading. Most parents work hard to make sure that their child turns into an avid reader, but are often disappointed if they fail to evince any interest. "Genes tend to have a very broad effect and it is often more than one gene that determines the interests a child will learn toward," Dale said. "Environment tends to act as the specialist. Reading to children can increase their interest in books but because of the genetic factor, they may never take to the love of books that a parent may have no matter how hard a parent tries to teach it." He added that it is important to respect a child's interests and adapt to them. "Some children will show more interest in something at certain times of the day," Dale said. "Don't assume that your child shares your tastes. Be willing to pay attention to the cues from the child."