As we get older, we forget who it is that we wanted to be; is that true? I think part of it is. I remember aspiring to be a famous author, professional basketball player, or well-known artist. A younger version of myself couldn’t find a reason why I wouldn’t be able to be all three. Now, I want to make sure that I have enough money to pay rent. My goals and aspirations have shifted over the years. However, some things about myself haven’t changed since then. I still have a wild imagination and want to make sure I have an impact on this world. Reading fiction has had a large impact on my life and these stories have always been my favorites to delve into, for a variety of reasons. Fantasy stories can play an important role in building critical thinking skills, empathy, and even help in finding positive role models.
Fiction can create scenarios we never even thought possible. This helps broaden a person’s imagination, which many times develops into creativity and helps apply critical thinking. This happens because not every story gives the reader a sense of closure. Sometimes, the reader is left only to their imagination about what could have happened after the last words on the final page. When reading we often think we know how a situation is going to play out and what the outcome might be. Maybe that comes from our experiences, things we have read in the past, or maybe we just have an expectation about how a story is supposed to move forward. I prefer a story in which I am not given that closure, then I am forced to use my imagination and come up with alternative outcomes. You’re given the perspective of multiple characters, and every single one has a different personality, motivation, and ending to their story. This helps build a sort of empathy for the characters in the story, which will hopefully translate to real world situations.
Developing a sense of empathy for characters that may not exist in the real world seems like an odd concept, but characters in fictional stories almost always reflect real people. So, in a way, understanding fictional characters can give the reader insight on how people function in the real world, and how they may tend to hide their true feelings and emotions. Understanding that fact is important when working with other people and figuring out how to deal with different social situations. Fiction often presents the idea that not every person’s life is exactly what it seems to be on the outside. My experience reading fantasy novels has helped me improve upon how I treat people and taught me to handle situations with more sensitivity and, ultimately, more empathy. In fact, some of the most influential characters in fiction novels are the ones that have an immense amount of empathy. These types of personas that we read about could play a more important role in our day to day lives than we realize.
Sometimes these fictional characters can give us, even as adults, people to look up to, someone to help mold our ideas of who it is that we want to be. An important step into what makes a human being successful, is the drive to always be better than you currently are. If I am constantly improving myself as a person, then ideally, I am improving my impact on the people around me. The characters that we find in fictional stories can be so influential that, as a reader, you find yourself caring for them. At times, it can feel like their decisions matter and you genuinely care about the choices they make. Luckily, a lot of stories end happily, and you see those characters in a positive light; good defeating evil seems to be a common theme. These role models, from tales that could never be true, carry their influence into the real world. The reader might strive to make more of an impact, just as their favorite hero did.
Reading is truly important. It has helped people calm down from tense situations and rest a little easier. It greatly enhances vocabulary and expands knowledge for all. For some people it has provided an escape from the real world and given them positive role models to follow. There are a multitude of obvious reasons to read books, and fiction stories should not be left out. Fantasy novels have improved my imagination and creativity, while helping me apply those skills to critical situations. I know and understand people a little more after diving into fiction. It has given me insight on how to best interact with others in various situations. Reading has given me positive people to look up to, admire and strive to simulate. Find a way to be better than you are already; pick up a book about old kings, magic, elves or dragons and remember the imagination that made being a kid so much fun.