If you are a parent, one of the continuous refrains you might hear from your children is "Can you read me a story?" It's an instructive request, really. I've never known my children to ask, "Dad, can we analyze the stock market?" or "Can we outline this car manual?" Children normally (with the profound exception of the pre-redeemed Eustace Scrubb in C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) want you to capture their imagination. They want you to take them away. They don't want to absorb facts. They want to live a story.
Something goes askew--albeit not intentionally--as we advance in our schooling. We can begin to think that literature is primarily something to be analyzed and dissected, judging how well the author has advanced his or her objective, pontificating about structure, meter, and rhyme. All this has its place, to be sure. But along the ways we forget the primary goal of why we read: to savor words, because at our core, we are primarily lovers who need to feed our passion for life. Pretty much the reverberations coming from Robin Williams in a cinematic classroom.
What makes us love what we read, whether it's historical fiction, a memoir, a murder mystery, Twilight (shudder), poetry, a collection of presidential speeches, a chronicle of life in Depression-era Kansas, or a children's picture book? Simply, if we are transported to another place and feel like we are living the experience given us, if we feel like this has become our world, our new world, and we can savor it, even for a brief time. When was the last time you picked up a book and said to it, "Come on, tell me a story?"