Sci-Fi and Fantasy Build Mental Resiliency in Young Readers

The Worst Types of Cyclones are Becoming More Likely

India and Bangladesh are currently reeling from Cyclone Amphan. The cyclone made landfall on Wednesday, forcing millions into shelters.

Prior to weakening near landfall, it was a super cyclone, the most powerful type of storm possible. A new paper has found that cyclones around the world are becoming stronger. That’s terrifying.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, looks back at four decades’ worth of satellite data on tropical cyclones, the catch-all term for typhoons and hurricanes. The analysis by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists uses an algorithm to control for technical advancements in satellite imaging that may affect the intensity estimates. This dataset isn’t perfect, but Thomas Knutson, a research meteorologist at a different NOAA lab who was not involved in this study, said it’s a “good choice”, especially for the purpose of this study…


Sci-Fi and Fantasy Build Mental Resiliency in Young Readers

“critical thinking and agile habits of mind prompted by this type of literature (science fiction and fantasy) may actually produce resilience and creativity that everyday life and reality typically do not” – Esther Jones Image credit: Cover Art from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic 2007). Illustration by Mary GrandPré

Young people who are “hooked” on watching fantasy or reading science fiction may be on to something. Contrary to a common misperception that reading this genre is an unworthy practice, reading science fiction and fantasy may help young people cope, especially with the stress and anxiety of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am a professor with research interests in the social, ethical and political messages in science fiction. In my book “Medicine and Ethics in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction,” I explore the ways science fiction promotes understanding of human differences and ethical thinking.

While many people may not consider science fiction, fantasy or speculative fiction to be “literary,” research shows that all fiction can generate critical thinking skills and emotional intelligence for young readers. Science fiction may have a power all its own…


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