Reading more nonfiction literature is a fantastic way to sharpen your brain. This sounds obvious, but so many people have the wrong idea when it comes to fiction vs. nonfiction. When one reads informational text, it requires careful attention and effort to be fully comprehended. Whereas when fiction or science fiction is being read, it’s likely being read purely for pleasure.
There are, of course, exceptions to this. Plenty of people may read fiction with excellent focus and attention to detail. The thing is, these people are missing out on the immense amount of knowledge and understanding of the world that nonfiction junkies get to experience. Those who just read books for fun can stick to whatever they want to read, but those who are trying to get real, practical benefits from their reading should always lean toward nonfiction.
Public schooling often fails to teach the proper way to close read text. According to Ness (2011), students are struggling with close reading at an increasing rate. A few factors play into this. Kids in elementary school through high school are often given assignments where they’re asked to independently read and log a brief description of what they read in a reading journal. This sounds like a simple and reliable way to get kids into reading. In reality, though, this form of reading assignment gives adolescents major apprehension towards reading and is often the reason why they are so turned off to reading by the time they get to highschool. When kids feel forced to read, they won’t want to. This is why many schools need to rethink the way they’re teaching kids to read by focusing heavily the basics of close reading.
Caitlin Dakin states, in her thesis paper, “It is essential in today’s educational world that teachers begin to transform their classroom instruction of fiction literature into short informational complex texts to give the students the opportunity to meet the demands of the common core learning standards.” Read what you will, but be aware of how much benefit you are really getting from your reading.
Dakin, C. (2013). The Effects of Comprehension Through Close Reading (Unpublished masters thesis). St. John Fisher College.
Amanda Christy Brown and Katherine Schulten. (2012, December 13). Fiction or Nonfiction? Considering the Common Core’s Emphasis on Informational Text. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/fiction-or-nonfiction-considering-the-common-cores-emphasis-on-informational-text/
Bartlett, B. (2014, June 20). 4 Bad Side Effects of Reading Fiction According to the 19th Century. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-bartlett/4-bad-side-effects-of-rea_b_5513451.html