What is the importance of literature? This might be a complaint you hear from your child as she moans about a reading or writing assignment. If your child doesn't understand literature's value, try instilling appreciation by explaining the following concepts.
Importance of Literature Providing Perspective
When you read a piece of literature, you get to read about a life experience through the eyes of someone other than yourself. You get a new perspective when you see a film about another culture or life situation. When you read literature, you get to walk in the shoes of a character whose life is different than your own.
A good book can help you think outside the box, empathize with people who have experienced things you have not experienced and teach you about things you'd never encounter on your own. The best pieces of literature are so well-written that they afford you, the reader, the opportunity to feel the feelings of the characters described, allowing you to test-drive ideas through a fictional world. A book like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton will help your child understand what it's like to grow up poor in the city; reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry will help your child understand what it was like to be African American when segregation was still a common practice in the South.
Importance of Literature Acting as History Lessons
Many pieces of literature are set in historical contexts, allowing the reader to learn about history in a personalized, concentrated way. The stories told in works of literature illustrate how it would feel to live through famous battles, famines, times of prosperity and times of depression. For example, reading The Grapes of Wrath will help your child understand what it was like to live through the Great Depression.
Importance of Writing Literature Offering Opportunities for Expression
When your child writes an essay or even a piece of fiction like a short story, he gets the chance to tell his point of view on a topic. Writing literature offers your child the opportunity to explore a time period, a life experience or an opinion while learning how to use the power of language.
Ask your child to think of a perspective she thinks you don't understand. Then ask her to write a short story that illustrates that perspective. Perhaps she will write about how unfair it is to have to do chores, to do a lot of homework or to ride the bus. Respond to your child's piece of literature thoughtfully and respectfully to encourage her discovery of the power of writing.
Importance of Literature As a Form of Art
As your child reads and writes literature, point out the poetic devices employed and available for use. Show your child the difference between stating, "My day was good," and explaining in a detailed paragraph exactly what made his day good. Look for opportunities to showcase the power of the written word, how it can evoke emotion, draw a reader into a scenario or persuade a person to change an opinion on a topic.
Several of these books on this classic literature reading list are commonly taught in middle school English classes, so adding them to a summer reading list can give your child an advantage when they come up during the school year.