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How characters react to their environment, their circumstances, their experiences, and other people is key to making a story work. As we read stories, we are learning about the world and its vastness. Setting tells us where and when the story takes place. This can help us learn about events of the past, speculate about events of the future, or discover new things about the events of the world we live in today. Characters provide us with thoughts and reactions to the events of the plot. They help us gain meaning from what we are reading about, they help us understand how the events impact human beings. We get to know a character's thoughts, feelings, reactions to the events of the story. Furthermore, we are able to learn how each particular character relates to other people in their lives, from loved ones to strangers they meet. All of these things contribute to helping us learn more about the story, but more importantly about the world we live in. We can learn from characters' involvement with their setting (the world around them) and the other characters they meet (the people in their lives) how they react to the world and how they handle the problems that life throws at them. Reading stories is about so much more than a literature lesson. It is about seeing a larger world than the one we live in and learning about how people deal with what life throws their way.
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