Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A Children's Book About Life...YOUR Child's Life!
You do know that the great Dr. Seuss wrote a book about your child, don't you? It's called, Oh, the Places You'll Go!
See? It IS about your child. And not only about your child. It's about your child's future.
Dr. Seuss was a poet
By that, I don't mean that most of his books rhymed. I mean that he was a master of literature who could convey sophisticated thoughts with stunning precision, conciseness and creativity.
I mean, can you think of another picture book that's in the 2nd person? (1st person is "I," 3rd person is "He" or "She," 2nd person is "You.") But Seuss's creativity didn't stop there. Instead of writing in the very common past tense, or the not uncommon present tense, he wrote Oh, the Places You'll Go! in the practically unused future tense.
Now, if this all seems too grammatical or semantic, consider the real world, bedtime story effect:
Dr. Seuss wrote a book about YOUR child's FUTURE.
If you ask me, that's pretty remarkable. I'll bet your child will think so too!
Children love being the center of attention. This book does that. Children love thinking about the future and growing up.
This book does that too.
Oh, the Places You'll Go essentially says to a child, "Here's your life, spread out in front of you. You'll be the star. There'll be a lot of high points; there'll be some low ones too. You'll be grown up, and the decisions will be yours."
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
Powerful stuff, huh? Your child might forget to blink or breathe while you're reading it!
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
Now, this might not be the right book for kids whose parents are threatened by it. If you've already decided your child will
...then you might find Oh, the Places You'll Go threatening. Because its explicit message is, "Kid, the world is available to you, the paths will be yours to choose, and you get to be who you want to be...Carpe diem!
Parents might even find the whole thing a bit wistful or bittersweet. I mean, there's your precious little bundle sitting in your lap as you read, and yet here's an entire book about him/her with no mention of you!
(Dr. Seuss himself - Theodor Geisel - may have found it so. This was the last book published before his death.)
But assuming you've accepted that your little ones are likely to grow up, learn, move out, and hopefully thrive, it's hard to imagine a more forward-looking gift to give them than Oh, the Places You'll Go! It's a book that says, "Hey, the pain of growing up is for a reason. It's so you can be YOU some day."
Webmaster's note: Eight years before this book, Seuss published another which feels very much like a companion piece, showing the flipside of all these life options. It's called, Hunches in Bunches. Click to read our review.
One of Seuss's best, and definitely his most empowering.
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