Research has underscored the cognitive benefits of reading, but scholars have also begun to explore its implications in the socioemotional domain. The authors review research exploring the links between reading and social understanding skills such as empathy and perspective taking, examine the qualities of literature that are posited to foster social understanding, and propose explanations of why reading may confer these benefits. Building on this review, the authors include ideas on how to incorporate this research into literacy classrooms by providing specific book suggestions and accompanying activities that may leverage the potential sociocognitive benefits of reading within a classroom context.
- 2005). Parent–child picture-book reading, mothers’ mental state language and children's theory of mind. Journal of Child Language, 32(3), 673–686. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305000905006963
- 2007). Mothers’ use of cognitive state verbs in picture-book reading and the development of children's understanding of mind: A longitudinal study. Child Development, 78(4), 1052–1067. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01052.x
- 2009). Mothers’ storybook reading and kindergartners’ socioemotional and literacy development. Reading Psychology, 30(2), 175–194. https://doi.org/10.1080/02702710802275348
- 2013). How does fiction reading influence empathy? An experimental investigation on the role of emotional transportation. PLoS One, 8(1), article e55341. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0055341
- 2001). The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” Test revised version: A study with normal adults and adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42(2), 241–251. https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-7610.00715
- 1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom, 6(3), ix–xi.
- 1991). The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry, 18(1), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1086/448619
- 2006). How children develop social understanding. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
- 1997). Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later. Developmental Psychology, 33(6), 934–945. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16184.108.40.2064
- 2006). Promoting emergent literacy and social–emotional learning through dialogic reading. The Reading Teacher, 59(6), 554–564. https://doi.org/10.1598/RT.59.6.5
- 2006). What teachers can learn about reading motivation through conversations with children. The Reading Teacher, 59(5), 414–424. https://doi.org/10.1598/RT.59.5.1
- 1993). Experiencing narrative worlds: On the psychological activities of reading. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- 2013). Engagement with young adult literature: Outcomes and processes. Reading Research Quarterly, 48(3), 255–275. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.46
- 2012). Transportation into a story increases empathy, prosocial behavior, and perceptual bias toward fearful expressions. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(2), 150–155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2011.10.005
- 2017). Different stories: How levels of familiarity with literary and genre fiction relate to mentalizing. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 11(4), 474–486. https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000069
- 2008). The function of fiction is the abstraction and simulation of social experience. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(3), 173–192. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6924.2008.00073.x
- 2011). Emotion and narrative fiction: Interactive influences before, during, and after reading. Cognition and Emotion, 25(5), 818–833. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2010.515151
- 2006). Bookworms versus nerds: Exposure to fiction versus non-fiction, divergent associations with social ability, and the simulation of fictional social worlds. Journal of Research in Personality, 40(5), 694–712. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2005.08.002
- 2009). Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: Ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes. Communications, 34(4), 407–428. https://doi.org/10.1515/COMM.2009.025
- 2010). Exposure to media and theory-of-mind development in preschoolers. Cognitive Development, 25(1), 69–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogdev.2009.11.002
- 2015). Beyond the story map: Inferential comprehension via character perspective. The Reading Teacher, 69(1), 91–101. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1377
- 2011). To read or not to read: A meta-analysis of print exposure from infancy to adulthood. Psychological Bulletin, 137(2), 267–296. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021890
- 2017). Leisure reading and social cognition: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 11(1), 109–120. https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000089
- 2016). The use of “literary fiction” to promote mentalizing ability. PLoS One, 11(8), article e0160254. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0160254
- 2006). Testing the home literacy model: Parent involvement in kindergarten is differentially related to grade 4 reading comprehension, fluency, spelling, and reading for pleasure. Scientific Studies of Reading, 10(1), 59–87. https://doi.org/10.1207/s1532799xssr1001_4
- 2014). Early reading success and its relationship to reading achievement and reading volume: Replication of “10 years later”. Reading and Writing, 27(1), 189–211. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-013-9439-2
- 1995). Knowledge growth and maintenance across the life span: The role of print exposure. Developmental Psychology, 31(5), 811–826. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16220.127.116.111
- 2017). Promoting positive youth development through school-based social and emotional learning interventions: A meta-analysis of follow-up effects. Child Development, 88(4), 1156–1171. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12864
- 2008). Providing preschool foundations for later reading comprehension: The importance of and ideas for targeting inferencing in storybook-sharing interventions. Psychology in the Schools, 45(7), 627–643. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.20314
- 2018). The effect of literary fiction on school-aged children's theory of mind (ToM). In A.A. Ariyanto, H. Muluk, P. Newcombe, F.P. Piercy, E.K. Poerwandari, & S.H.R. Suradijono (Eds.), Diversity in unity: Perspectives from psychology and behavioral sciences (pp. 159–166). London, UK: Routledge.
More to Explore
- LEARN. (2006). Response teacher's guide. Retrieved from https://www.learnquebec.ca/documents/20181/67977/response_guide_en.pdf/2bb95bd9-3ab4-4a49-97c5-83d8267e1029
- 2002). Emotions and the story worlds of fiction. In M.C. Green, J.J. Strange, & T.C. Brock (Eds.), Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations (pp. 39–69). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Québec Reading Connection: https://www.quebecreadingconnection.ca. (This resource provides book suggestions and lesson plan ideas for teachers.)