I don’t believe this only applies to fiction. I think it applies to stories of all kinds when told a certain way. When I read John Adams by David McCullough I had an emotion reaction even though it was not a fictional account. The Monuments Men is another example of this. It’s not fiction, it story. It is making that connection that is important. That’s why I include a library section on this blog. I want to share the stories that meant something to me. The largest non-profit organization for promoting children’s literacy is called RIF or Reading is Fundamental. I bet you’ve heard of them or at least heard the name used as a truism. Reading IS fundamental.
At least story telling and story hearing is fundamental. Fundamentally human. Story is even etched on the walls of caves representing man’s early attempt at writing down his story in order to remember it. Books get burned and banned each time a dictator comes to power. As much as oppressors scream about a man like Jordan Peterson they started screaming louder when he wrote a 12 step book outlining why their way of thinking was wrong. That would have been okay if the book sucked or was designed for academics only. But it turned out to be an interesting and easy read that makes sense to people. The screaming got louder and there were calls for stores not to stock it. Why? They didn’t like it. That’s a common story with story.
Reading will make you better at thinking. Better at figuring out the world around you. I don’t care if it is comic books or Mark Twain, The Odyssey or 2001 a Space Odyssey. It will make a difference in your mind and thus your life.
I get kind of sad and worried about people who don’t read at all. Though I know audio-books have become popular unless you are focusing on them and only them they aren’t producing the same level of immersion as reading is. Getting those words inside your head from the page is a mental process that in and of itself is beneficial. But I get it, some people can’t read well, or have difficulties due to dyslexia which can make reading literally painful. Luckily we know that reading on a phone is easier for people with dyslexia and with e-readers there is a wealth of story in your pocket.
If you want your children to be smarter and more well adjusted, read to them and then provide them books they can read. If they are too young then you can give them books that help them emulate reading so they develop a love for turning pages. Children can do well reading very early. A four year old can read a book with a few words and pictures.
We can learn about people, cultures, conflicts, possible resolutions to those conflicts, interpersonal communications, romance, treachery, hate, love, and war and how to navigate all that and come out the hero. Not everyone can be a hero? Yes, they can. If not the hero of their own story, then a hero through the eyes of a character or notable figure from history.
From fireside folk tales to Netflix dramas, narratives are essential to every society – and evolutionary theorists are now trying to figure out why, writes David Robson.