Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mother knows best .... not all the time.

I recently had a conversation with a 10 year old that went something like this ...

Student "I need to find an autobiography"
Me "Ok, who would you like to know more about - a sportsman, a scientist, a politician or a celebrity?"
Student "It doesn't matter, I just need an autobiography"
Me "Is it for a school project or reading?"
Student "No, my mum wants me to read autobiographies, she said I read too much fiction, that fiction is a waste of time, and I should read more autobiographies"
Me "Does your mum read autobiographies?"
Student "No, she doesn't read anything"

Hmmm - the mum lost credibility with me on two counts in the conversation, but I helped the young man find an autobiography to take home, and then immediately wrote a piece for the school newsletter on why reading fiction is good for you, hoping that this particular parent would read it.

Below is a piece from Ali Hale which I adapted from the original in some parts by shortening the text for space in the newsletter (hopefully without detracting anything from the original). These 8 reasons were the thrust and inspiration for the direction of the complete article I inserted in the newsletter which included these 8 reasons.

Eight reasons why reading fiction is good for you

Reading Fiction is good for you - here are eight reasons why ..

More Creative Thinking - Reading fiction gets you thinking creatively as it may just give you ideas you can apply in other areas of your life.
Being "Well Read" - Being able to chat casually with people about recent reads, hot topics in literature can be great at cementing a great first impression. Many fiction titles are based on real events, so you can learn about people, events and situations whilst enjoying yourself - this also helps you be well read.
Enhance Your Vocabulary Being able to write well also makes you look intelligent and capable - and reading widely will help to enhance your vocabulary.
Enjoy Your Commute or Lunch Hour - Books are wonderfully portable and will withstand a lot of wear-and-tear and allow you to escape the real world for a short time to refresh your mind.
The Ultimate Escape - Feeling stressed, moody, miserable or lonely? Getting into a great novel is my sure-fire cure for any of these. It's amazing how quickly you forget about what's bothering you, as your mind is filled with intriguing characters and an exciting plot.
Cheap or Free - Books are a cheaper form of entertainment compared to other forms of entertainment - especially if you borrow from a library.
Active Relaxation - reading is an active form of relaxation. Your mind is engaged with the story, busily translating those little black marks on the page into letters, then into mental images.
New Insights - Self-Development - Finally, reading fiction can be a gateway to new insights about the world - and about yourself. Perhaps you'll meet a character in fiction who's uncomfortably similar to you; and you'll recognize the solution to a flaw you'd never quite admitted you had. Maybe stories of courage against all the odds will inspire you. Reading literature from other countries, or "classics" from decades or centuries ago, can help you to see new things in life: the similarities and differences between your day-to-day life and that described in the novel can encourage you to think about different ways to live.

Adapted and extracted whole from Eight Reasons to Read Fiction by Ali Hale.

Can you think of any more reasons why reading fiction is good for you?


Ali Hale said...

So glad you liked my piece - awesome to see what you did with it. :-)

And what a sad story about that kid. I was lucky enough growing up that my parents always encouraged me to read (though I did go through a phase of *constantly* having my nose in a book, at coffee-time at church, while walking, watching sports, at the breakfast table ... I must've been kinda anti-social to live with!)

Dianne said...

Thank you Ali for writing such a succinct piece that allowed me to respond to such a challenge so quickly. I entered a preamble on top of your piece for the newsletter to introduce the topic, which I didn't include on the blog - maybe I should have!

It was a sad story about the student, and hopefully one that can be rectified with coaxing and education of the student and possibly the mother, a balance is required in all things.