Imagination, reading and libraries are closely linked. Bestselling author Neil Gaiman points out that it is by imagining things can be different, that people can learn how to change the world. He also reminds us that Albert Einstein recommended the best way to make children intelligent was to read them fairy tales.
Another bestselling author, Susan Cooper, has described how her own life was shaped by imagination, and the experience of reading and writing books. Both Neil Gaiman and Susan Cooper have built successful careers by using their imagination.
It’s not just in the field of writing that imagination is important, either. The Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination celebrates many achievements, which are the result of imagination.
A research study on the effects of reading novels found that reading fiction enabled people to empathise with others, in a way that was similar to the idea of muscle memory. This experience of empathy has a physiological effect that connects different parts of our brain.
So when you read a book - when you use the library - remember you are feeding your imagination, and you never know where it might lead.
‘Imagine’ is the theme of Library and Information Week, 25 - 31 May 2015.
Read more about reading and imagination:
• Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming (The Guardian)
• Susan Cooper: Libraries are the frontline in the war for imagination (The Guardian)
• Reading fiction improves brain connectivity and function (Psychology Today)
• Using your imagination (The Reading Agency)
• Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Don’t underestimate the importance of imagination (Scientific American)
• The neuroscience of imagination (Psychology Today)
Sarah Steed is our Consultant Librarian and reviewer. A former Children's and Young Adult Librarian, she has more than 18 years' experience working in public libraries. Sarah comes from a family of readers and has shelves full to bursting with books.