Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Well-Adjusted Readers

My daughter is writing a song for a school assignment. Before she started singing it for me, she assured me it has nothing to do with her. As she sang about a mother leaving, a father torn to pieces, and the singer lost and helpless, I started thinking.

How does this girl, who has never had anything truly bad happen to her, have such insight into what people are thinking and feeling? Not only that, how does she know what such a person would need? (After she finished singing she explained that the song is about having people around you to help you get through the bad times.)

Those thoughts led me to another question I consider often--what makes some people so able to handle the hard times with strength and endurance, without falling apart or being self-destructive? And companion to that, what makes others the opposite?

And I came up with an answer:

Life is easier to manage if you read a lot than if you don't.

I know that's far too simplistic to be universal. But it also makes a lot of sense. Reading fiction puts us inside the heads of people who are not like us. It helps us have compassion for others, and understand why people do things they do. It shows us how others handle events and emotions, and makes us think about what we would do in similar circumstances. That kind of thought is like advance preparation. Maybe what we think we would do isn't at ALL what we end up doing, but maybe it also helps us do the right thing. Reading at least helps us learn the process.

Yet another reason for me to feel so much pity for those who don't read. :(


Victoria said...

I agree with that.
Maybe it's not universal, but reading definitely helps.

Misty said...

BRAVA! Couldn't have said it better myself :)

Natalie Damschroder said...

Thanks! :)