I reread “Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss today. I was planning to share with my classes a handful of books that each in it’s own way has had an impact on me. It’s always interesting to hear from kids the books that have had an impact on them. It’s significant, I realize now, for students to go back to their first reactions to literature. For the most part, those first books were the most powerful and meaningful to them, and the ones they enjoyed the most. For some it’s the book that was read to them over and over by mom and/or dad. For others it’s the first book their teacher read aloud to them that they could not wait to hear again. For some it’s a librarian that introduced them to their first meaningful moments with a book. Whatever book it may have been, whatever person it may have been who read it, it’s good to look back. Let’s go back to those moments, well before books were about answering comprehension questions or finding a theme, when books were about enjoying a story and getting fully immersed into a character’s life.
That happened again with me today.
I got this Dr. Seuss book when I was graduating from high school, as I’m sure many others do. Inside is a note from a guidance counselor, the director of the leadership program I was involved in then, saying I should continue to make a difference. One way or another that’s been the heart-beat of my life. When I read this book today, I was amazed by how much more meaning the words on the page had for me. When I look back on that time between high school and now: all the roads I went down; all the dead ends; all the high times and lonely times. Even the times when I was left with decisions I wasn’t sure how to make, or the times when I thought I for sure would never succeed one way or another, it’s all there in that simple book. And that book has been with me for so long, sitting in a bookcase, waiting for me to pick it up again today.
The books that have an impact on us, are the books that, like this one, hold more than just their own story. They hold our story, too.