Evolution is lean. Species do not waste energy on traits that are not helpful to reproduction. Story telling is a common gene in all cultures, so it must serve a purpose.
Several reliable, peer-reviewed studies show that people who read fantasy fiction are better problem-solvers, more empathetic, more creative, and more adaptable than those who don’t. Reading fantasy equips you to respond to real life.
When I was a toddler my older brother used to like collecting the prizes from a cereal box called “Sugar Puffs”. The only problem was that it took a long time to finish the box, so he persuaded me that the more I ate the more magic power I would get. He said that our pet bird, KiKi, had a magic land and that if we ate enough Sugar puffs we would be able to find it. So, of course, I gorged myself. Years later we moved to Scotland and my brother wanted me to accompany him for a long trek down the glen. To get me to go he said we might find KiKi’s magic land. We walked for miles beside a winding stream until we turned a corner and we found KiKi’s magic land. It was such an unexpected scene: a massive waterfall with a permanent rainbow, and flocks of birds and a deer on the other side of the stream. My sense of wonder and awe filled my soul. When I write I want to recreate that sensation. I want the reader to turn the page and have their jaw drop.
There are deep messages in fantasy literature. The arc of the hero is the arc of our lives. The call to adventure is paralleled by every child’s step into adulthood. The trials of the hero are the trials of adulthood, and the final victory is to see our own children make their own adventure.