Genes Determine if Children Will Love Books

The affection to books is very
likely uneducatable; © Hemera

“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, published in Psychological Science with co-authors Bonamy Oliver and Robert Plomin, used data from more than 6,000 children who are part of the Twins’ Early Development Study (TEDS). TEDS is a longitudinal study of twins born in England and Wales between 1994 and 1996. Genetic data from the twins have been collected since their first year of life and is ongoing.

The study found that two factors, environment and genes, account for whether a child will an avid reader and listener to books even as a preschooler. Dale said parents often work hard to bring literacy to their children and are disappointed or feel like they have failed if the children have a lesser interest in reading than the parents had hoped. “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.”

Children have their own tastes and preferences, according to Dale. He said it is important to respect their individuality when trying to increase their fondness for reading. It is important to be willing to adapt and accommodate a child’s schedule and interests. “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.”

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Missouri-Columbia