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A child's favorite book is one he or she chose, says study

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Adam Nadel

(Read caption) Voktor Blasie Villanueva (r.), Daniel Gotra (center r.), Liam Kinozahn (center l.), and Carl Straut-Callard (l.) at the library at the Beginning with Children School in Brooklyn.

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The secret to instilling a love for reading in your little one?

It may be as simple as letting her choose her own book.

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That's according to a new Scholastic report that found that a whopping 91 percent of children ages 6 to 17 said, "My favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself."

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Just as kids who help prepare dinner are more likely to eat it, those who are involved in choosing, buying, and borrowing books are also more likely to enjoy reading.

In fact, allowing and encouraging children to choose their own books may even create kids who don't just read, but want to read, says Lois Bridges, former teacher and Director of Educational Initiatives for Scholastic.

"[T]he research shows that giving our students a say in what they read is key. And from our experience, we also know frequent reading leads to becoming a proficient reader, which helps a child thrive personally and academically," Ms. Bridges writes for the Washington Post. "Classroom-based independent-reading programs that invite reading choice and promote reading pleasure give rise to kids who not only read, but, more importantly, who want to read."

And what sorts of books are kids looking for?

According to Scholastic, kids' top picks were books that make them laugh (70 percent), let them use their imagination (54 percent), and tell made-up stories (48 percent). They also like books that have smart, strong, brave characters (43 percent); teach something (43 percent); and have a mystery to solve (41 percent).

Among the report's other findings:

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• Frequent readers (ages 6-11) read an average of 43.4 books per year, whereas infrequent readers in this age group read only 21.1 books annually. Among children ages 12–17, frequent readers read 39.6 books annually and infrequent readers read only 4.7 books per year.

The most powerful predictors that children ages 6–17 will be frequent readers:

• being more likely to rate themselves as “really enjoying reading”

• a strong belief that reading for fun is important

• having parents who are frequent readers.

In other words, if you read a lot while you’re young, you’ll probably keep reading. That's reason enough to let little ones choose their own books and develop a love for reading from the get-go.