Friday, October 18, 2013

Readers Have Feelings Too

It would be difficult to find a person who would argue that reading is bad for a person, at least in the civilized parts of the world. I know there are parts of planet Earth where certain persons prefer the population remain illiterate and ignorant. But most people know that reading is a good thing.

Most parents know they should read to their children from an early age, perhaps even before birth. Some studies say it doesn't even matter that much what you read to them. As children get older and become full grown adults in love with reading, they select what they want to read. The benefits are life-long. I came across, thanks to an RWA newsletter, another side benefit of reading.

This results of this study, published in The Atlantic, link what people read with their social abilities. Things such as skills in reading emotions in other people and sensitivity to other people are linked to what they read. Readers of fiction are more emotionally sensitive than readers of nonfiction and readers of romance are the most likely to read other people correctly.

The study does pose the question of the chicken and the egg. Do sensitive people read more fiction or romance, or do they become more sensitive because they read fiction?

What do you think, chicken or egg? Did your parents read to you or did you read to your children? Do you agree with The Atlantic?


  1. Actually, I read to my parents...once I learned English. :)

    They eventually learned English on their own and even today my mom is an avid reader.

  2. I don't remember being read to but I know I was and I was an early and avid reader. At age ten I was ripping through Reader's Digest Condensed books along with every book I could get through my school's book fairs (and oh boy did I used to love those!). I do think reading makes you more sensitive because it opens up worlds and experiences you may not be familiar with.

  3. Now that's a good question! And now I know why I still can't read my wife correctly.
    My mother read to me a lot, which is why I enjoyed reading as a kid.

  4. Books, reading and writing, clear communication, dictionaries all swirled in the values of my household, with my father in particular. I think I read everything-- fiction and nonfiction and am quite sure I was read to as well.

  5. Haha, good questions. Reading was #1 in our house with 5 children. I read a lot when expecting them, but I don't remember what I read. Thanks for joining my blog, Susan and good luck with your book!

  6. My mother was never a reader. My step dad worked late. But reading and writing have always been in my genes. Charles Hall is one of my relatives, he has 50 titles to his name and several silent movies.

    I always read to my girls. Love using animated voices.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  7. My parents read to me as a kid. I cannot remember a time when I didn't enjoy reading. I prefer fiction to nonfiction, but I do read both. I read romances as a young person, but after a while the formulaic nature of them had me moving on. Now, I like a mystery, suspense, paranormal, even YA, with romantic elements. I still like my romance, but I want it with other things.

    As for your question... that is a conundrum. Do sensitive people or does reading make people sensitive? I have a friend who said he just didn't read. However, he loved movies. My response was that a book is like a movie. The only difference is that you get to decide what the characters look like (to a degree) and you know what people are actually thinking. I got him to read a few books and now he reads a lot. This is a guy in his 50s. So, it is possible for people to discover reading at any age. Do I think it has made him more sensitive? I don't know.

    So, no answers here!

  8. I also read that study, and wondered the same thing. My best guess is that it works both ways. In other words, you could start as an emotionally sensitive person and seek out fiction for that reason, and the more you rad the more emotionally sensitive you get. Or, you could start out loving to read, and that reading turns you into an emotionally sensitive person.

  9. well, my parents didn't read to me that i remember...but suprisingly there are photos of my dad reading to us girls... is that weird? but hey, i'm a book lover and 3 out of us 4 girls are. that's not a bad statistic!

  10. All of my relatives read to me. I'd say that reading makes you better at detecting emotion and writing helps even more.

  11. My parents didn't read to us, but I read to my sons and they read to their children. I suspect my parents were busy trying to feed us after the war.

  12. I haven't read the other comments, but it's probably the chicken AND the egg. The already sensitive read fiction which hones their skills.
    Interesting study.