Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

places Today is Monday, July 1, 2013.

This is my all-time favorite book by Dr. Seuss, and I like to read it aloud to myself every once in a while.  Today I decided to “read” it aloud to you, with comments.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
by  Dr. Seuss

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Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

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How many of our children’s writers bother to tell young people that they are the ones who must make choices for themselves – and that they are perfectly capable of doing this?  Very few!  It’s so important for kids to understand that their choices have real consequences for their lives – even the choices they make as children!

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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.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

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Another thing that we need to be getting across to kids is that they don’t always necessarily have to take any of the choices offered.  Sometimes they will have to create their own choices.

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It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.


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Instead of instilling fear of the unknown in kids, it’s important to teach them that life is to be greeted with open arms, and that no matter what happens, they will somehow be able to handle it.  Going with the flow is important.  It’s certainly more productive than making ourselves miserable because life doesn’t happen the way we think it should.

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You’ll be on y our way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

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Everyone has their good times and bad times.  It’s never all one or the other.  When we ask kids to remember some good things and some bad things, they will get the idea that life is like a roller coaster.  What goes up must come down, and vice versa.

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You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

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It’s a good thing to remind kids that everyone goes through lumps and bumps in life, and that grownups, too, go through things that can be very scary.  It’s when we think we are alone that we are saddest and most frightened.  When we realize that we share experiences with a lot of other people, it can give us hope that the rough spots will even out, eventually.

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You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

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There’s a time and a place for waiting, but when we wait for others to do what we should be doing for ourselves, we may end up waiting a long, long time.  Kids don’t generally understand all the references in this section, but adults do.  How many of these things listed above have you waited for?

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That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

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Everyone has his or her “15 minutes of fame.”   Andy Worhol, the famous pop artist said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.”   And that was way, way before YouTube!

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Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

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This is another thing we need to talk about with kids – the idea of doing things to spite ourselves, and how our negative attitudes about ourselves can shape our behavior.

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All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

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If we believe the media, we’re supposed to be surrounded by people all the time, but the fact is that not all of us are.  Many people do spend quite a bit of time by themselves, and I think it’s not a bad idea to learn how to entertain yourself or to be a self-starter.  There are some things in life that you just have to face by yourself, and that’s OK.

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But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

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Facing up to our problems is another thing we don’t talk enough about to our kids.  So many times, the thing we fear the most turns out to be not nearly as terrible as we thought it would be.  Kids need to hear this from adults.

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You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

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Haven’t we all got mixed up with the wrong crowd once or twice in our lives?  And haven’t we all had to balance things that seemed contradictory?  This is one more important thing to discuss with our kids.

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And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

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guySuch a great allegory for Life!  I need to read this to myself more often.  🙂


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