Head off to great places!

by Roxanne Ha

Read, read, read! I’m sure during elementary school most of you experienced teachers always telling you to read, whether that manifested in logging reading minutes for homework, spending time in class silently reading or sitting criss-cross applesauce in a circle for story time. There would be a few groans across the room, some excited murmurs scattered around desks and the synchronized shuffle of students taking out their books from their desk drawer.

Back then, reading was a mandate, an expectation to uphold, but as the years progressed and more and more obligations filled our plates, it became merely a memory in the back of our minds. It was something we once did and something we should do, but truthfully something we hadn’t done for a while. However, with Read Across America Day (really week) celebrated on March 2, which also happens to be Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and spring break approaching, what if we could all take some time to pick up a book and visit old or new stories again?

Growing up, I loved reading. I loved the authors Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, E. B. White and Neil Gaiman. I loved novels like “Wonder,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “On My Honor” and “Bridge to Terabithia.” And I loved book series like “Magic Tree House,” “Ramona,” “Cam Jansen,” “Percy Jackson” and “Harry Potter.” I loved escaping from the monotony of school life and falling into the worlds of Camelot, Mount Olympus, Hogwarts and Lark Creek, Virginia. Places where I would encounter dragons and centaurs and learn spells to protect myself against the Dark Arts. Whenever my teacher would declare that it was time for silent reading, I would eagerly close my textbook, grab the novel I was reading and flip to the page I left off on the day before, not wanting to lose another minute. Reading fueled my endless imagination and inspired me to write stories that I could explore myself.

Some of the first books that I ever read were written by Dr. Seuss. His rhythm and rhymes made his books a super fun experience and helped me understand the story better. I remember on Read Across America Day in middle school, every student in my class was paired with an elementary school student, or “buddy,” to whom we read one-on-one during class. When I met my buddy that day, she was excited to read together and shared with me some of her favorite books to read. Most of them were by Dr. Seuss. As I read aloud “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Three, Four, Five Fish!” to her, it felt extremely nostalgic. It was a full circle moment, to be transported back into the unique worlds and characters that Dr. Seuss created and to share some of the stories that shaped who I was to a younger student in my community. I hoped that she might feel inspired to continue reading so that she could be inspired by reading as much as I was.

Although reading may often be an afterthought in our lives today, it remains an essential part of learning. Since a young age, reading opened my eyes to new characters, perspectives and life lessons that I still carry with me today. Somewhere in a story’s pages there exists ideas, experiences and worlds that we may never have encountered before. But they may be the spark we need to find clarity, comfort or inspiration in our own lives. Isn’t it exciting to know that there is always an opportunity waiting for you — a story to read and a perspective to learn from — that could potentially help you grow? After all, isn’t the purpose of life to live and learn? Who knows? Give it a shot! Find a book at your local library or online and see where it may take you. You’ll never know what you might end up learning or enjoying unless you try it out. Like Dr. Seuss said in “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” “You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!”

Featured Image via MKPhoto – stock.adobe.com

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