"[...] the rationale for reading books in English class is not limited to the important goal of promoting strong reading skills. For generations reading literature has also been the way that American students have learned their country's history and world history, how they learned about morality (by reading about virtuous and not-so-virtuous people), how they learned about good and bad leaders, and how they learned about the dangers of pride, greed, and other human foibles.
Reading literature also teaches, among other things, empathy: it puts us in another person's shoes [...] And certainly society could use a bit more empathy these days. Literature enlarges our lives, it gets us out of ourselves, and at the same time, it helps us see ourselves more clearly. In short, not only does literature make us better readers. It also makes us better citizens and future employees, and most importantly, it helps us live our lives." SOURCE