There have been many debates since the promulgation of the Common Core standards about the appropriate balance between literature and “informational text.”

The writers of the Common Core think that American children spend too much time reading fiction, not enough time reading “informational text.”

But the New York Times reports a new study, published in the journal Science:

“It found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking. 

The researchers say the reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.”

Outside experts concurred with the study’s importance.

The article says, “The study’s authors and other academic psychologists said such findings should be considered by educators designing curriculums, particularly the Common Core standards adopted by most states, which assign students more nonfiction.”

David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core, once famously said, that “[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a s–t about what you feel or what you think.”

The latest research says he is wrong. Reading literary fiction teaches you how to interact with people in the world, how to understand how they are reacting to you, a skill that is highly valued and necessary if you want to advance or be hired. People do care how you feel and what you think.