READING CONTROVERSIAL WORKS MAKES TEENS BETTER CITIZENS: STUDY

Apr 11, 2014

By Scott Walker

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A new study suggests that reading controversial works of literature can affect students’ behavior.

In a good way.

Researchers in Texas studied a group of teens who had read books that the American Library Association says are commonly banned from school libraries. They include Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, the Harry Potter series, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Stetson University psychologist Christopher Ferguson says reading books with dark themes did not seem to steer kids’ either towards or away from violent crime, or affect their academic achievements. But he says they did tend to participate more in civic activities such as volunteering.

Ferguson suggests that the books may foster higher-level thinking about these issues and promote more civic mindedness, even if the material is dark.

The study appears in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts.

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