Part 1: I think that childhood is the time period when everything is coming into form and you start understanding stuff. Reading good stories to kids at this point in time will help them mold into what the stories are telling them. Also I think that creativity is rampant during the growing years. Give a five-year-old a piece of paper and a box of crayons and it's amazing what they'll come up with. The experience of reading, is something that makes them feel older as well. My mom's cousin, Dineth, is now almost seven and a half. I have grown up watching him grow up. When he was younger he watched a lot of TV. He still does now, but he can read now too. He feels proud when he reads a book because he has to achieve and work for it. Anyone can watch TV, but only big kids can read.
Part 2: I love reading stories because I enjoy learning from and being inspired by stories. I think we can still learn alot from reading, just like little kids with their moral-oriented Arthur books. The meanings and what each person gets out of different books is just more subtle. It doesn't specifically say, "and that's why Arthur never lies," but we usually end up getting something out of it. One of my favorite authors (who I regard as a storyteller) is Salman Rushdie. At the end of every chapter of every single book, I learn something or I want to find out more about something he has written about. This is a trait that keeps books in hands and not dusty on bookshelves.
Part 3: I think America values the idea of books, more than the books themselves. A lot of people live hectic lives where everything is at the touch of a button, but reading is slow and something, again, that they have to work for. I think that Americans are also very career-oriented and individualistic. To sit down and look into someone else's life and look at it from an outside perspective (and critique and revel about it) is something that is very intersting. As far as the NY Times Best Seller list is concerned, I think that it is also one of those fast-track, touch of a button things that is a part of the culture. If it's good enough to be at number one on the Times List, then it must be a good read. Stories, overall, are keys into looking into things that we aren't able to see. Take the book "The Pursuit of Happyness" for example. If you are living in the Upper East side, I highly doubt you are poor, or even close, or have even seen someone who is poor. If an Upper East-sider reads this book, they look at poverty and think about it, something they would never have done before if they hadn't read the book.
Part 4: I remember this book of fairy tales I had when I was seven or eight. I remember two stories one was called "Toot, Toot" about this weird lady who always wanted her driver to honk the horn at things she didn't like (like hats or a cow or people with twins) and she gets arrested when she pulls out her own horn and creates havoc. The other one was like "the Devilish Imp" or something, about this imp who is making trouble in this town and he gets caught and is told he can never be bad again. I don't know why I remember these two specifically (there were at least 50 stories in that book) but I do. I also remember oral stories about my family. My extended family is really zany and my mom would always tell me stories. I especially liked stories about my grandfathers (paternal and maternal) because I have never met either of them (my father's father died when he was 20 or so and my mother's father died in Sri Lanka when I was a few months old - we went for his funeral)
- Stories need to have relatable characters that you will always remember
- There should be a thinking factor, besides just a superficial story
- The events that happen should make sense in the scheme of things
- The surroundings of the character should be creative and force the character into specific things
- The story should be exciting and gripping
- The telling of the story should be even more exciting and more gripping (you can have a good story but kill it by the way you tell it)