Everyone loves choice and a little control over their lives. Kids included. Not only does it feel good to make to make your own choice, but research shows that it actually promotes success in a number of different ways including:
Check out the the related article Real Choices, Real Reading.
If you came for a summary of the research, here it is.
RIGHT FROM THE RESEARCH
In a meta-analysis of 22 studies on factors contributing to reading motivation and achievement, Guthrie and Humenick (2004), found that providing student choice over what to read, who to read with and where to read produced effect sizes, second only to having access to interesting texts.
Pressley (2003) found lack of student choice to be one of the primary classroom characteristics that undermine motivation and achievement.
Both children and adults pay closer attention, persist longer, learn more, and show more enjoyment when engaged in topics or activities that focus on their individual interests (Hidi and Harackiewicz, 2000).
Guthrie, J. T., & Humenick, N. M. (2004). Motivating students to read: Evidence for classroom practices that increase motivation and achievement. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 329–354). Baltimore: Paul Brookes.Hernandez, D. J. (2011). Double jeopardy how third-grade reading skills and poverty influence high school graduation. Baltimore MD: The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Hidi, S., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2000). Motivating the academically unmotivated: A critical issue for the 21 t century. Review of Educational Research, 70, 151-179.
Pressley, M. (2003). Motivating primary-grade students. New York, NY: Guilford Press.