Literature is important in everyday life because it connects individuals with larger truths and ideas in a society. Literature creates a way for people to record their thoughts and experiences in a way that is accessible to others, through fictionalized accounts of the experience. As an art form, literature has existed for thousands of years, with the oldest texts dating back to the 26th century B.C.E.
Literary tradition is both oral and written. Civilizations that existed without a written language still managed to pass down their stories through oral telling. Many Native American cultures practice an oral literary tradition. The primary use of literature in ancient settings was to pass down customs, beliefs and traditions to the younger generations. In more recent centuries, literature has taken on a more comprehensive role of mirroring society in order for humans to study themselves and understand the underlying truths common to all people. For students, studying literature is a critical component in education, as it teaches students to see themselves reflected in art. This allows people to learn about life and truth. Literature also helps people to see life from the perspective of another. Identity-based literature teaches the reader what life is like for others, helping them to be more understanding and respectful of those around them.