From children’s books that parents read to their kids at bedtime to bestselling novels and award-winning literary works, books play a crucial role in our lives, fulfilling the natural human needs for knowledge, information, and entertainment. The role of books in society can never be overestimated since they shape individuals and cultures and allow us to grow into more well-rounded people.
Why is Literature Important
The importance of books starts from our childhood when our curiosity and thirst for knowledge make us want to read stories of all kinds, moving from fairytales to fantasy novels and then to more complex and though-provoking literary works. We are influenced by literature in many powerful ways.
Literature Expands Our Understanding of Human Nature
Most people’s contact with literature becomes serious in school. This is when they begin to understand the importance of books in exploring stimulating and provocative ideas about human nature. There are few other mediums other than books that can give students the same freedom to analyze human personality or behaviour and reach important insights.
Think about a novel like Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Students from all over the world have to read and write an essay on Frankenstein, a task that forces them to think about serious aspects of human nature, such as alienation, family relations, evil, and what makes someone human. By writing an essay about a book, students are thus confronted with deeper questions.
Literature is an Educational Tool
The role of books in society is to serve as an educational tool able to expand our knowledge about the world and ourselves. To ensure books achieve their purpose, we must look at them critically, however. Only by performing in-depth analyses of Frankenstein can we truly understand what the author meant.
For example, students are asked to think about Victor Frankenstein and analyze his actions and motives. By doing so, they learn to sense the hidden meanings, themes, and messages behind the actions. This is an incredibly effective learning process that makes way for many important discussions and debates between students and professors. Students learn the value of forming their own ideas and that not everyone thinks the same, which is an important life lesson.
Literature Inspires Deeper Thinking
Having to write a Frankenstein critical analysis seems challenging, but there is no better way to trigger reflection and deeper thinking that this. When students ask themselves why is literature important, the answer is that books improve brain connectivity, make us think more thoroughly about things, and teach us to develop our own arguments, opinions, and ideas.
The importance of books comes thus from the fact that when we read, our mind starts tracking new ideas, thought-patterns, or symbols. This, in turn, makes us more prepared to face society and its challenges. Books give us the tools to become good analysts of our own behaviour and the behaviour of those around us. We no longer judge things superficially because we know that behind every action there are countless more or less subtle causes.
Literature Shapes Our Worldview
When we read, we have the chance to observe different characters going through all sorts of situations and showing their qualities and flaws. By immersing ourselves in a book, we start to develop likes and dislikes. Maybe we start to appreciate the bravery or intelligence of a character, and we hate the immorality of another one.
The role of books in society is thus to help us establish our values and principles. Most readers develop strong opinions about a book they have to read, and this ends up shaping their worldview. The ability to judge and criticize or, on the contrary, to praise or admire a character and his actions help us develop our perception of society at large.
Literature Enables Time Travel
The only way to travel into the past is to read a book representative of a certain period. We would understand very little about how people lived and what they felt or thought in the past if we didn’t have books. With the help of books, we step back in time and immerse ourselves in a different epoch. In many ways, books are time capsules because they maintain the flavours of their time.
We can learn everything about a certain period by reading a novel that describes how cities looked, how people dressed, what were their habits, interests, and values, or what they ate. This explains the fundamental role of books in society since they allow us to understand our cultural heritage.
Literature Teaches Empathy
Reading a Frankenstein’s argumentative essay might reveal paradoxical things. Some readers have more sympathy for Victor Frankenstein while others have more sympathy for the monster. How can a book trigger such contrasting feelings? The explanation is that since books allow us to enter into the minds of the characters, they promote empathy, which is the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes.
By reading we listen to the voice of someone who loves or suffers and the more we discover about the character, the more we relate to him. When it comes to the role of books in society, it is a clear sign that literature has the ability to promote more understanding, tolerance, and empathy between people. When you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you become much less judgmental and much more open.
Why is literature important? This is a question that authors, readers, non-readers, and teachers answer in different ways. What is certain is that literature is invaluable. It makes us better thinkers and more curious, knowledgeable, and tolerant individuals. Due to the many functions they serve, books are a mirror of our development as individuals, cultures, and societies.