While reading Jim Murphy’s post last week about David Macaulay and the less-than-enthusiastic response to the latter’s books from a panel of judges, a theory popped into my head that I’ll try out on I.N.K. readers. Bearing in mind Macaulay books such as Cathedral, Castle, and Pyramid, choose which list below matches up most closely with his books:
- big picture
- on time
List #2 seems more aligned with David Macaulay’s body of work to me, thought of course his work is very visual. In case you haven’t recognized them yet, these are right-brain (#1) and left-brain (#2) characteristics. Do right-brain people prefer fiction? Do left-brain people prefer nonfiction?
The specifics of right brain vs. left brain preferences are not as cut and dry as popular accounts might lead one to believe... people use both sides of their brains (hopefully) and there is quite a bit of overlapping functionality. While I don’t want to overstate the significance of how our brains work, most of us know which side we naturally favor, don’t we?
I’m just wondering if there is a unconscious preference for or against fiction vs. nonfiction that is aligned with our right brain/left brain comfort zones. Perhaps to right-brained readers, nonfiction’s emphasis on facts reminds them uncomfortably of being in school and taking tests, whereas to left-brained readers the fantasies of fiction may seem like a waste of valuable time. (As with brain function, there can be overlap between fiction and nonfiction such as historical fiction, for example.)
Are there more right-brainers in certain fields that impact children’s books? One example: people who enjoy math are usually left-brained and when I ask audiences of elementary teachers to raise their hands if they love math, not many hands go up! In that vein, here is an interesting article about right-brained, left-brained, and “middle-brained” teachers and students.
In any case, if this theory has any validity what should we do about it? Hmmm... should I make a list or start doodling?