oh, the places you'll go!

Oh, the places you’ll go! and other interesting reasons to read every day.

Of all the ways to lose yourself, there is none better than within the pages of a book. As a child, reading wasn’t something that came naturally to me. In fact, I have vivid memories of doing my reading homework with my Mum and being told off for reading words that weren’t there. However, I LOVED being read to. Particularly from the well-known and best-loved author Dr. Seuss. My favourite book was a lesser-known story called “I had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew”. Every night without fail I would ask my Mum to read me this story, and one read-through wasn’t enough. The funny words, rhyming rhythms, and fabulous pictures had me hooked. I loved it! I had it read to me so many times my Mum had it memorized! Bless her! But the transformative power of a story is timeless, just as much as the stories themselves. As Dr. Seuss says, Oh the places you’ll go!

oh the places you'll go. world book day. children's literature.
Dr. Suess with his characters.

Reading takes you on a journey

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Dr. Seuss

We really have no excuse to be uninformed people. In every book you pick up, be it sci-fi, romance, historical fiction, fantasy, crime, adventure, you will always be taken on a journey. A journey in time, space, to fabulous new places, or on a journey of self-discovery. You might learn amazing things about people and places you didn’t know about before and discover that you have so much in common with the people of the past or from different cultures. Reading gets you out of yourself and takes you into yourself simultaneously. The more you read, the more you know about yourself, the world, other people, and so much more. To read is to be informed. To be informed is to be deep, meaningful, aware. And when we are aware we will go places we never thought possible.

Ignorance breeds contempt. Readers breed leaders. Oh, the places you’ll go when you know what you know!

It’s a type of therapy

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Dr. Seuss

Reading shows us who we really are. The type of books we read indicates our preferences, what we value, and what we’d like to know more about. I love historical fiction because I value knowledge about the past and how people lived and overcame adversity. But I also love fantasy and being transported into a world of new and fantabulous creations. I enjoy a moral struggle, good versus evil, human dilemmas, romance, humor, and escapism. But more than all this I love learning about myself. Through the stories I read, I learn about who I am, how I would feel in a particular situation, where my morals, ethics, and beliefs stand.

Just like the characters I read are unique and special, reading teaches me who I am and that I am unique and special too. There is no one alive like me, or like you. And there never will be. There’s only one Winnie the Pooh, one Gandalf, one Harry Potter, one Cat in the Hat, and one Anne Shirley. We love them because they are individuals with their own stories to tell and there is no other character quite like them. They are incomparable. So why do we feel the need to compare ourselves to others so much today? We are wonderfully and beautifully made with all of our quirks, flaws, habits, and skills. Celebrate you because you’re you-er than you. Oh, the places you’ll go when you know your own worth!

Brains and feet are both kind of neat!

You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

Dr. Seuss

No one says it quite like Dr. Seuss. He gets right to the point, says it like it is but with his own ubiquitous style. We can direct our own path with our brains and our feet, it’s up to us and our choices. It’s easy to direct our feet, just put one in front of the other. But our brains? I’ve blogged on this before, you are what you watch, but more so than what we watch on TV, we become what we read. I tend to stay away from themes that scare me or are in direct contrast to my morals and beliefs as what goes in doesn’t come back out again. Our brains in our heads are sponges that soak up the information we feed it.

Depending on what direction we would like to go in life, we should read material that supports that goal, that feeds us nourishment, not garbage. Not all information is relevant to everyone because we all walk our own paths. But oh, the places you’ll go when you feed your brain what it needs to direct your feet in the direction you choose.

Live forwards, not backwards

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Dr. Seuss

This week marked the fifteenth anniversary of my lovely Dad’s passing. It hardly seems possible that so much time has passed since I last saw him, spoke to him, hugged him. And I do think of him often and all that he would have said and done and thought. But I’ve had to learn to move forward from that terrible grief and live my life, just as he lived his. Now that so much time has passed it’s easy to smile because I knew him, because he was my Dad. But there was a time I cried and cried because it was over. Sometimes I still do when I’m caught unawares by a memory, or something big happens and I’d have loved to share it with him.

It gets easier

But it’s easier to turn that sorrow into a smile these days because I’m just so grateful he was my Dad and I got to know him.

There will be many places, things, or people in life that we mourn the loss of. But it’s important to learn to move forward and not live in the past. The past is gone, the future awaits us. Literature has an amazing capacity to help us heal, as Dr. Seuss shows, through the stories and characters that we love best. We go back to certain books time and again because they bring comfort, joy, solace, remembrance, and healing. Often when I get to the end of a book I have a moment of sadness that it’s over. You want to stay in that universe with them a little longer. But all good things have their time. Smile because it happened. And then find a new adventure! Oh, the places you’ll go when you smile and you grow!

Pay it forward!

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.

dr. Seuss

One of the best things about reading is inspiring the next generation. Like my story above about my Mum reading to me, I have another one from later in life. My Higher English teacher was a formidable woman named Mrs Wilson. You didn’t mess with her! And yet she had such an ability to inspire and motivate that she opened up the world of literature to me in new and exciting ways. Shakespeare, Huxley, Orwell, Burns, to name a few, were some of the challenging writers that became accessible to me. When she took the time to make these difficult texts make sense, she ignited a passion for independent reading that was as yet only simmering away. I will be eternally indebted to her.

Not only is it important to read for ourselves to improve our minds, but we must also read to the next generations to inspire the same passions in them. Children’s literature is incredible if we take the time to notice. So many writers from years gone by, and writers today have created brilliant stories that engage young minds. Reading takes you on amazing journeys, expands your vocabulary, informs you about many important things, and gives you a sense of belonging that you might be missing in your life.

You’re never too old, too young, too serious, or too busy to read to a child, or to enjoy a story on your own. Go on! Raid the dusty bookshelf and oh, the places you’ll go if you take the time to go!

What was your favourite story as a child? Do you still enjoy reading? If so, what book has you captivated?

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