Russell Moore argues on his blog that Christians should take the time to read fiction:
The Bible doesn’t simply address man as a cognitive process but as a complex image-bearer who recognizes truth not only through categorizing syllogisms but through imagination, beauty, wonder, awe. Fiction helps to shape and hone what Russell Kirk called the moral imagination.
My friend David Mills, now executive editor at First Things, wrote a brilliant article in Touchstone several years ago about the role of stories in shaping the moral imagination of children. As he pointed out, moral instruction is not simply about knowing factually what’s right and wrong (though that’s part of it); it’s about learning to feel affection toward certain virtues and revulsion toward others. A child learns to sympathize with the heroism of Jack the Giant Killer, to be repelled by the cruelty of Cinderella’s sisters and so on.
The article to which Moore refers appeared in Touchstone’s July/August 2009 issue, and it’s available on their website. In the essay, David Mills delves into several works of young adult fiction to examine the flawed lessons they convey and the cramped vision their authors present. While reflecting on those shortcomings, however, he also has more positive insights about how books can shape us. Read the whole thing here.