Hey all! Recently I had the opportunity to meet a handful of really cool authors around western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota. My assigned booth space was directly across from a guy whose family helped him set up large painted cutouts of his books’ illustrations. It didn’t take long to strike up conversation with Pete the Fart Dad’s wife, and pretty soon I invited Pete to guest blog. Come on, anyone who titles his book Fart Dad and seeks to make kids laugh and see God’s beauty has insight worth sharing.
So let’s hear from Pete Ziolkowski on why fiction matters!
Fact or Fiction?
There are only so many hours in the day. Most of those hours are occupied. Work and responsibility claim most of your calendar. And energy.
Your discretionary time is limited. If you love reading, this poses a problem. What will you give your valuable margin to?
Fiction? Facts? History? Academics? Theology? Self-reflection?
All are important components of a healthy literary diet. For many years, though, I neglected reading fiction. It seemed “less than.” Frivolous. Like a different version of watching a TV show.
All the way through earning a master’s degree, the only fiction I was required to read was in English/lit courses.
This reinforces the false perspective that fiction is “less than.”
But consider this. What is the most gripping part of most books that you read? Isn’t it when the author breaks from lecturing and shares a personal story?
Many consider Jesus the greatest teacher of all time. How much of his teaching was a form of fiction?
Here are three benefits to reading fiction.
Fiction inspires awe and wonder
When was the last time you took a toddler for a walk? Have you noticed how LONG it takes to make it around the block?!
Toddlers are amazed by EVERYTHING. An ant marching might as well be the Mona Lisa. A field of daisies is as valuable to a toddler as a mine filled with gold.
There is a beautiful, inspiring, simplicity to the way a toddler views their world. Something similar happens with a good story.
An ant is not the Mona Lisa. Daises aren’t gold. But stories, fiction, have a way of taking simple concepts and letting your mind touch the fringes of something more expansive than can be comprehended.
Why do so many people travel to the Grand Canyon? Why does the ocean draw so many visitors? How do the Alaskan glaciers stop so many in their tracks?
Something almost magical happens when we drop our guard and stand in awe of something greater than ourselves. Something beyond our comprehension.
Our souls are moved by seeing beauty that is too great to absorb and beyond our ability to create.
You may not be able to go to Alaska or Arizona. But you can grab a book and be drawn into awe and wonder.
Fiction invites imagination
How do great, world-shaping, innovative ideas come to be? Somewhere, somehow, someone has to think differently.
Fiction opens intellectual doors that allow people to think in forms and concepts that aren’t easily accessible in the real world. At least, not yet.
But fiction works in the other direction as well. Fiction can make tangible realities that are hard to grasp. Consider the brilliance of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien was able to create a world that communicated the value of friendship, the danger of idolatry, and the pain of racism.
Any one of those concepts can be hard to grasp. Some of them are remarkably difficult to discuss.
Fiction diffuses contentious conversations
This final benefit to fiction was one of my primary motivations in writing the Fart Dad books. As a dad, I believe that it’s critical for fathers to be engaged with the hearts of their children.
And yet, this can be remarkably challenging. Finding time. Or mutual interests. And then – how in the world do you ease into a conversation about police brutality or gender debates?
If you’re a parent – you need to. Unless you homeschool, don’t give your kids access to the internet, or TV, or books, or friends who have access to any of these!
Fiction has a way of disarming contentious conversations. Especially if you add a dash of humor and a pinch of self-deprecation!
Feel Free to Get Lost
So grab a good book, lose yourself in awe and wonder, dream big dreams, and engage in meaningful conversations.
The fiction section at your local library holds the keys that will unlock all of these treasures.
Thank you, Pete! Early and middle-grade readers will definitely enjoy Fart Dad and its sequel, so find copies for the young readers in your life. Fun fact: Pete’s own children made the illustrations!
Readers, which of the three points that Pete highlighted do you think is most important? Post your positive comments below 🙂