This article from the New York Times gave me a little thrill this week. It reports on results of a study that find yet another reason reading is beneficial: reading literary fiction can draw on skills that improve social interaction. While it might be a little ironic to the antisocial bookworms that avid readers can sometimes be, you can't argue that it has some pretty important implications:
Making inferences is a skill that reluctant readers often lack, but fortunately that can be remedied by some literary fiction: "The researchers say the reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity."
". . . psychologists and other experts said the new study was powerful because it suggested a direct effect — quantifiable by measuring how many right and wrong answers people got on the tests — from reading literature for only a few minutes." Only a few minutes can seem temporary, but I think it's an argument for reading more often, even every day, for just a few minutes!
I'm glad that they also mentioned that educators should consider this study's findings, especially considering the heavy weight the new Common Core State Standards puts on nonfiction--which is very important!-- but obviously, so is literary fiction.
Imagine the impact this can have on people who are looking to develop business, customer service, communication, or other skills for vocations in today's job market. To be honest though, I just love the idea that literature has a way of creating a humanity that we can all share.
Read the article here and the study here.