“Reading literature makes us smarter and nicer”

Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, reported in studies published in 2006 and 2009 that individuals who often read fiction appear to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and view the world from their perspective. This link persisted even after the researchers factored in the possibility that more empathetic individuals might choose to read more novels. A 2010 study by Mar found a similar result in young children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their “theory of mind,” or mental model of other people’s intentions.


Recent research in cognitive science, psychology and neuroscience has demonstrated that deep reading — slow, immersive, rich in sensory detail and emotional and moral complexity — is a distinctive experience, different in kind from the mere decoding of words….

[i]mmersion [in a story or novel] is supported by the way the brain handles language rich in detail, allusion and metaphor: by creating a mental representation that draws on the same brain regions that would be active if the scene were unfolding in real life. The emotional situations and moral dilemmas that are the stuff of literature are also vigorous exercise for the brain, propelling us inside the heads of fictional characters and even, studies suggest, increasing our real-life capacity for empathy. [emphasis added]

Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer
“Deep reading” is vigorous exercise from the brain and increases our real-life capacity for empathy
By Annie Murphy Paul | June 3, 2013

A terrific ‘zoonoses’ sentence

[Pronunciation: zoh-onuh-sis, zoh-uhnoh-sis]

Infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans from infected animals are known as zoonoses.

SM’s revision in class today:
Diseases given to humans by animals are called zoonoses.

Much better!

Here it is in context:

Infectious diseases are the only ones that can be transmitted. They may be spread by infected animals, infected people, or contaminated substances, such as food and water. Infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans from infected animals are known as zoonoses. Diseases given to humans by animals are called zoonosesZoonoses may be transmitted by carriers, such as insects; by the bite of an infected animal; by direct contact with an infected animal or its excretions; or by eating animal products.

Zoonoses are:
a. insects that carry diseases.
b. infected animals that transmit infectious diseases to humans.
c. infectious diseases that man gets from animals.
d. carriers that transmit infectious diseases.

Whimbey, Arthur and Linden, Myra J. Teaching and Learning Grammar: The Prototype-Construction Approach. Chicago: BGF Performance Systems, LLC, 2001. Print. (90-91).