“I don’t know how one develops imagination without reading fiction”—Diane Ravitch

I buy all the novels for my students that our school budget allows because our students need to be reading fiction more than non-fiction. Here are some reasons reading novels will help our students both as language learners and as well-rounded human beings:

1. Readers learn more vocabulary from novels. In a novel the vocabulary repeats itself more than that in non-fiction texts because the setting and the situations tend to be revisited and referred to over and over. This helps a reader to pick up both high frequency vocabulary as well as the specific words used in the novel and to become a better reader. Repeated vocabulary becomes automatic.

2. Reading novels is easier and more fun than reading other materials. Stories lend themselves to prediction. Once you understand the genre, the setting and the characters, you can often guess where a story is going. This natural interaction with the text makes reading fiction easier and more pleasant than non-fiction, especially for young readers and for language learners.

3. The life lessons in novels are easier to see than those in non-fiction texts. The valuable lessons in non-fiction can be harder to spot as the reader wades through a sea of random real-life events. The focus on the story in a novel can help readers to understand the author’s message more clearly. We just don’t have time to learn the lesson s we need to learn from non-fiction.

4. Novels help readers to develop empathy. In a novel we are allowed to peek inside the heads of others and explore their motivations. Novels help us to develop perspective or Theory of Mind, which is the ability to understand another’s thinking rather than just our own. In our connected, but isolated, digital age we all need help with empathy. Reading novels that we enjoy and can understand is a good way to do that.

5. Reading fiction makes you smarter. “Those who read more fiction know more about a variety of subjects.”


All of these reasons and more are available in the Light Reading Book Reports in the Reading section on the Free Stuff page on this web site.