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Reason #492 to Raise a Reader: Books Breed Empathy

Reason #492 to Raise a Reader: Books Breed Empathy

by Raven McCutchen

A year ago

Words by Katie Hall - Image from Northern Sisters 

Whether it’s The Help, The Hunger Games, or Crazy Rich Asians, it’s not uncommon to walk out of a movie and think, wow, that was really good. But the book was better. Why is it that we often experience a deeper emotional connection to books than we do to movies?

Over the last decade scientists have been studying the emotional effects of all sorts of media, and the results suggest that reading fiction can improve our understanding of emotions. This is because spending time between the pages of a book (or e-reader!) allows us to work through a character’s feelings alongside them. 

Fictional stories portrayed on the screen don’t have that same effect, according to a study conducted last year by Rose Turner at Kingston University in London. “When we read we go by what is simply written on the page and we have to fill in the gaps as we go along, giving us a chance to develop empathic skills as we try to understand what a character is going through,” she says. “Whereas when we watch something, we are provided with a lot of that information already.”

So, spending time reading with your kids is not only a boon for literacy, it’s also a step toward raising a caring, empathic little human.

We love this list of classic children's books that inspire kindness—something we hope all of Lil Bit Lit's titles do, too. Happy reading, friends.

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