flickr CC image via Magenta Rose
Stories aren't a "communication tool." Stories just are... we use communication tools to tell them.
Stories are powerful, no doubt... perhaps more powerful than any other element of learning. How they are told makes lots of difference. When we tell stories that are personal, true, emotional and purposeful, they take on meaning that moves people. Whether these stories are told through words, pictures, writing, sculpture, photographs, paintings whatever... the tool serves to represent the story, but the story is there regardless whether someone chooses to tell it or not.
Perhaps most importantly, we must also always remember that people receive stories on their own terms, from their own perspective. How people will react to a story is intangible to the teller. If a story is a "tool," it has to have a purpose (and they all do) but the intent of the teller is not always reflected in the reaction of the receiver... stories as tools in this context become much more complicated. Consider stories that move people toward actions or reactions that the teller never intended... in these cases the "tool" doesn't perform the function it was intended for.
Hammers hit nails, but they also bend them.
Stories as tools... how about stories as just stories and the vessels we choose to tell them as the tools we use to shape and form them? How people relate to the way we shape and form stories is entirely up to them.