Fiction is essential to the classroom curriculum

Published by adviser, Author: Stephani Damato - Commentary, Date: December 4, 2014
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There is some debate in certain school districts on whether teaching fictitious literature is appropriate or necessary within the literary classroom. When I heard this argument, I was taken aback. It is preposterous, in my opinion, to even consider the possibility of pulling fiction out of the curriculum.

The argument for nonfiction is understandable, and I am in no way against reading texts based on true events, or biographical information, or scientific articles, etc. However, these readings, along with fictitious events, are equally important to expose to students. Fiction may not teach us some particular event happening in our world, or the true accounts of some historical movement, but it teaches us aspects that we find in our real, everyday lives.

Reading fiction promotes empathy in readers—it allows people to connect to characters and situations and then apply it to their own lives. Fiction also teaches us lessons and morals, right from wrong, and decision making that every person encounters in their life. For instance, in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Katniss volunteers to enter the brutal games in order to save her sister. As the events in the three-book series play out, it becomes about more than protecting her family. It turns into a battle of good versus evil and warns readers of the danger a government can pose if they possess too much power. Although kids are not forced to fight to the death in our society, we can learn a lot from the heroine Katniss Everdeen. She teaches us to be brave, smart and compassionate. She teaches us to protect the ones we love, the importance of sacrifice and how to stand up to people who are unjust and cruel. She may not be the perfect role model, but no real person is, and no fictional character should be either. The emotion and the intelligence that we take away from reading fiction override the fact that the story never actually occurred.

These stories, after all, derive from the mind of a human, and there can always be something to learn in the depths of our brain. Experiences and opinions are what form these fictional tales, and the themes that exist in reality and on the pages of nonfiction are prevalent in these tales as well: love, hope, fear, courage, sacrifice, honor, family, tragedy, passion and determination. All of these are only a fraction of the ever-growing list. What I am trying to say is this: do not close your mind to fiction. It is a learning experience. It not only allows readers to expand their knowledge, vocabulary, writing skills, grammar and how to use punctuation, but it also reaches into the recesses of our very being, of our very soul. These characters speak to us in a way our friends and family may not be able to. These stories expose to us the realities of human nature and can serve as an escape from the nonfiction that surrounds us.

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