What is it about stories that make them so universally attractive?
Stories provide a simplified simulation world that helps us make sense of and learn to navigate our complex real world. The aspects of our real world that are usually most challenging, most crucial for us to understand, are social aspects. Knowing how to deal with evil as well as love, how to recognize others’ desires and needs, how to behave towards others so as to retain their friendship, and how to earn the respect of the larger society are among the most important skills we all must develop for a satisfying life. Stories that we like, and that our children like, are about all that. They are not explicitly about how to navigate the social world, in the way that a lecture might be. Rather, they are implicitly about it, so listeners or readers have to construct the lessons for themselves, each in his or her own way. Constructed lessons are far more powerful than those that are imparted explicitly.