As a youngster I used to read a lot. I can say that by the time I had crossed the 10th grade (high school). I had read several literary classics and luckily literature for us never meant just English, Hindi, Russian or any particular kind of literature. I read literature from all parts of the world. Most works were of course translations but it still provided a perspective to a different socio-cultural pattern of life. Like all good literature they represented some universal values.
I recall reading Pride and prejudice when I was in the ninth grade and I could understand and relate to the characters whose way of life was totally alien to mine.
I even recall reading Chitralekha, a Hindi novel by Bhagwati Charan Verma, which questioned the line between love and lust and by means of its principal protagonists managed to convey that the line between good and bad is thin and at anytime one can cross it.
I think reading these kind of books gave me a broader perspective on life. I wonder if this kind of love of reading still exists with the current generation. Even when I was in school I can't say that I had many of my classmates showing the same love for books as I had. But yes I did have some friends who had this kind of love for reading.
Among the present generation I don't find even one person who has the same love for books! I recall communicating with a youngster who stated that he would throw all books in the dust-bin; he seemed to have forgotten that without books he wouldn't be in a position to even express those thoughts. Through books we learn our basics. Please respond if you are a book lover it is quite pleasant to come across a like minded person.