I was dicussing the issue of the importance of story with a friend the other night. We had shared the points in our lives where we came to a real understanding of the importance of story. He said it was when he was in high school.
For me, I was 10 or 11 years old and had just finished reading The Hobbit. I distinctly remember setting the book down after I finished and realizing I had just read a magnificent story. It had intent, meaning, purpose, and my realization of this was, for me (esp. at that age), earth shattering. After that I picked up subsequent books with a whole new purpose … for the story.