Family Matters: 9 Benefits You’ll Reap by Reading Family Friendly Fiction
For as long as I can remember, I have preferred reading non-fiction to fiction. When frequenting libraries and bookstores in bygone years, I’d push my way past anything with a plot and head straight for the how-to section. “Why would anybody want to read something pretend,” I wondered, “when they could read something practical, instead?”
It was not until I met and married my husband that I began to realize what a wealth of knowledge this mindset was causing me to miss. There are some lessons in life that can be communicated more effectively through storytelling than by any other means.
Perhaps that is why Jesus taught in parables — so that his tales and the truths hidden therein would be remembered and pondered for generations to come. He understood that a well-told narrative has the power to influence others in a way simple admonition or instruction could never accomplish.
This ability to impact a reader’s life and change it for the better is something all good fiction shares in common. And so, thanks to my husband’s encouragement and his hearty endorsements, our entire family has chosen to incorporate a little fiction into our daily reading diet for many, many years now. And the benefits we reap from this practice are myriad:
- We Gain Positive Role Models
Who can read about the unfailing loyalty of Samwise Gamgee, the steadfast integrity of Atticus Finch, or the selfless compassion of Peeta Mellark, and not be moved? Fiction allows noble character qualities to be showcased in a way that inspires readers to cultivate the same virtues.
- We Are Exposed to Negative Examples
Think of the all-consuming avarice of Ebenezer Scrooge or the treacherous duplicity of Fernand Mondego: Fiction can exaggerate loathsome qualities in a manner that makes us want to distance ourselves from even the slightest hint of such behavior.
- We Learn Valuable Life Lessons
Mothers the world over warn their children against running with scissors or other sharp objects, but reading what happens when Rubin Pritchard rushes to the river with his axe drives the lesson home like no amount of scolding ever could. Good fiction allows us to learn from the mistakes of others and see the laws of sowing and reaping in action.
- We Enjoy Shared Experiences
As Katherine Mansfield has observed, “The pleasure of reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.” Our family has certainly found this to be true, which is why my husband and I both continue to read aloud to our children long after they grow too big for our laps.
- We Expand our Vocabulary
Reading has always been an effective way to augment an impoverished vocabulary, and fiction reading — with its rich language and varied descriptions — is particularly well-suited for this.
- We Brush Up on our History
I (vaguely) remember studying World War II in high school, but those dry lectures couldn’t begin to cement in my mind the names and dates and events involved like Bodie Thoene’s Zion Covenant series did. Well-written historical fiction provides a wonderful way to view past events from a fresh perspective.
- We Improve Reading Comprehension
The skill required to follow the plot of a novel from beginning to end is exactly the skill needed to perform well on the verbal portion of standardized tests. With rare exception, the more fiction a person reads, the easier comprehension becomes – and bookworms have the test scores to prove it.
- We Expand our Horizons
Stories from or about other parts of the world can do much to broaden our outlook on life. Multi-cultural literature has been great for helping our family see beyond our own backyard.
- We are Spurred to Action
Fiction has the power to not only influence public thought and opinion, but to challenge and change our practices, as well. Consider, for instance, the public’s response to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Legend has it that when Abraham Lincoln first met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he greeted her by saying, “So you’re the little woman who started this big war!”
Jennifer Flanders can often be found with her nose in a book. While she loves reading fiction with her family, she usually reverts back to non-fiction when she’s reading alone. To check out some of her favorite titles, visit http://bit.ly/recommended_reading.