by Sharon Stevens
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
“Oh The Places You’ll Go”
When our daughters were small I took them to the Canyon Public Library for storytelling every week. What an adventure it was to hear the stories and share the activities. As a young mother, (young is such a relative word), I had thirty minutes of peace to browse through the library as they were picking out their books.
We read every night, every naptime, and throughout the day. To me reading is such a treasure. In fact our girls tell me that this is one of their most precious memories growing up.
Everything was glorious in our little world. That is until they brought a Dr. Seuss book home. Try as I might I could not read his books aloud or even to myself. No matter which one it was I couldn’t make heads or tails of the way the sentences were supposed to go. I never admitted it to the girls and I still let them check his books out, but I just couldn’t make it make sense.
The next week at storytelling I admitted to Mary Huntington, the librarian, that I just couldn’t read his books to the kids.
She looked at me sweetly and kindly and said the words I carry with me to this day.
“You are trying to READ his stories and with Dr. Seuss you don’t read them, but let them take you where you need to go.”
Of course! Something so simple!
From then on I relished his stories and celebrated his gift. Seuss could take any word and pair it with another word and make it sing and dance to celebrate life, or the life of whatever creatures he conjured up in his imagination. Thing One and Thing Two come to mind.
I admit I still have troubles with the behavior of “The Cat in the Hat”, and can barely stomach “Green Eggs and Ham” as well. Nevertheless I love, “Horton Hears A Who” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”. And I can’t wait to see “The Lorax” on the big screen at the Varsity Theater in Canyon, Texas.
Thank goodness I never let on to my girls my struggles, and they enjoy Dr. Seuss to this day. In fact our daughter, Andrea Keller, will Skype with her classroom at Sally Elliott Elementary school together with Dyane Smokorowski in Kansas for a worldwide celebration of his birthday March 2, 2012. What fun!
One of Dr. Seuss’ favorite quotes is: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I think admitting to Mary Huntington about my struggles helped me to understand one of my dilemmas in writing up to that point. Since then I have taken HER words to heart. We don’t have to be poets or make our work rhyme. Of course it should make some sort of sense, but not in the fashion of fitting a square peg into a round hole.
So many times as writers we try to make our words fit into the mold we have pictured in our minds. If we would just step back and let our story find the rhythm on its own, taking a leap of faith, never doubting that the next step will be there beneath our feet…in our shoes.
In that way our READERS will treasure when they READ our writing.
“Oh The Places You’ll Go”!