Getting kids to read can be hard to do, since there are so many other things that capture their attention — and honestly, these days it’s hard for a print book to compete with video games, friends, and the internet. Many kids only read the novels found on their middle school book lists and don’t bother reading for fun or recreational. One of the best things parents and educators can do is allow kids to choose books themselves. Here’s why.

Kids Know What They Like
One of the main reasons adults should allow kids to choose their own books for independent reading is that kids know what they like. This is common sense — if a kid likes a book, he or she is going to be more likely to read it for fun. Some of the best books for middle school students are going to be the ones they choose for themselves. Fantasy books for 6th graders through 8th graders are really popular right now, so it’s important to allow children to have access to them.

By the Numbers
Integrating independent reading time into the school day can help kids read more for fun. Thirty-three percent of kids between the ages of six and 17 say that they have time during their school day reserved for reading a book of their choice. Teens also buy books for themselves; in fact, over 40% of teens have purchased a book on sites like Additionally, 91% of kids say that their favorite books are books that they picked out themselves.

What Parents and Educators Can Do
Allowing your kids and students to read whatever they want might not seem ideal. It’s not uncommon for parents and educators to want to influence what their kids and students are reading, and there are a few things you can do. Recommending books is a good start — about 75% of teens have had a teacher, parent, or other adult recommend self-improvement or leadership books in the last year. Kids of parents who read frequently are more likely to read frequently, so parents can also read fantasy books for 6th graders through 8th graders with their kids to get them to read for fun more.

Do your kids or students pick out their own books? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.