So Alternative Fruit may have turned a few heads a couple of weeks ago when we reported on top educational podcasts and included an entry for science fiction. What? Some of you asked, why fiction for education? It sounds like we're teaching lies to our kids perhaps? Not really, you know we take it for granted that the stories are not true. It's the context and morals within them that cause us to learn about life. Stories have been used to communicate wisdom for millennia, modern stories are no different. Famous fables and parables have us all thinking along the same lines in certain situations. Books like Terrance The Shy Hedgehog by yours truly are more modern examples of the same thing. Useful for knowing how people are going to behave, as well as making sure everyone knows the rules. There are key features in fiction that communicate good wholesome education. It is a longer stretch for the mind, we have to think about it, it requires us to analyse and weigh up various points. Encouraging us to think independently based on given criteria, like those found in a well-written story, helps us to do the same thing in real life. It makes good practice. Here are some of the main points we can look to when finding the benefit in reading fiction.
Reading makes us happy and content. This sets the perfect atmosphere for good learning. An environment of quiet thoughtfulness without stress makes everyone's life better. When students are happy and content they will naturally learn more and be willing to discover things for themselves. They'll have the energy to muster the confidence to tackle the big ideas they need to succeed.
Reading fiction helps us to be creative. When we don't know how it ends, when your guess is as good as mine, our minds naturally try to decide for itself what comes next. We make guesses and educated hypotheses to get to the bottom of the conundrum, to know what happens next. Reading fiction encourages our minds to test our perceptions against an unravelling reality. Being comfortable with not knowing is another key feature in this area. Because we don't know and only guess, we learn to be okay with not knowing and if we're wrong, accepting it as part of the journey.
Reading teaches us new words and phrases. Our vocabulary normally comes from the people we speak to regularly. If we read a book then we're listening to the words of a writer who wants to use the best words and speak with perfect clarity. There's no better place to learn vocabulary than from someone who uses it to make a living.
Reading teaches tolerance. We sometimes don't like people for certain things they think or do. If we read about their lives from a non-biassed point of view, it can help us to see another side of the equation. Reading about different cultures and lifestyles can help us to stop judging others for being different and can enlighten us to their plight as individuals in a world that sees them a certain way.
Reading strengthens the brain. Many studies have shown that readers and people who use their brain regularly go on to have less likelihood of degenerative brain problems in later life. It helps us to retain memory and helps us to remain intelligent and alert even when our bodies are getting old. It's also good for mental health, with reading providing an escapism from life's troubles and helping us to cope with difficult emotions.
Fictional characters have lives which mirror our own. We can learn a lot about people and the way social circles work by reading about them from an external and non-involved point of view. Often when we're in the middle of it, our emotional attachment to certain people and their opinions causes us to misunderstand the reality of a situation. This can cause upset and conflict, reading more helps us to avoid this from happening by teaching us about how people treat each other and the consequences. Reading well-written fiction helps us empathise with people better and understand ourselves in more detail.
We all love to read, and we can't do much of it without a few books. We know about Amazon, what else is there? Here's a run down of some great bookshops.
Abe Books - These specialise in rare and collectable editions, they also have a weird book section and all the usual suspects.
Alibris - Now we're talking books, films, music, and games. It's a media haven for worldwide customers.
Smashwords - Go digital, save waste and money. This independent book retailer offers books from authors all over the world, each with their own story
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