A new study of more than 11,000 7-year-old twins found that how well children read determines how much they read, not vice versa. Furthermore, the authors of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry study found that how well children read is highly heritable, while how much they read is influenced equally by genes and the environment.
The findings indicate that children’s reading level fuels how much they choose to read and that children therefore tend to avoid reading if they find it difficult. Interventions should focus not only on promoting reading skills but also motivation to read.
“It was known that how much you do something and how well you do it are related, but for reading this study seems to solve the chicken-and-egg problem,” said lead author Dr. Elsje van Bergen, of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in The Netherlands.
The report concludes that: “How much and how well children read are moderately correlated. Individual differences in print exposure are less heritable than individual differences in reading ability. Importantly, the present results suggest that it is the children's reading ability that determines how much they choose to read, rather than vice versa.”
To download the study, visit https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpp.12910