“Congratulations! 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 in any direction you choose.”
Oh the Places You’ll Go, Dr Seuss.
I’ve recently rediscovered the healing power of reading. I’ve always read stuff, obvs. But somewhere around the exhaustion of young children, insomnia and other pressures, I got sucked into a world of reading online, or reading e-books, or Buzzfeed, or any manner of digital landfill.
I’d forgotten the simple pleasure of turning pages of a real book, the smell of the paper, the weight of a hardback, the curly, yellowing pages of a battered paperback.
Just before Christmas, I met with a work friend and was explaining all the major life changes I’d been going through, at that point still very raw . And the feelings and thought processes that contributed to these changes.
He listened, and asked: “Are you reading much at the moment? I read to unwind”.
What a genius! I had forgotten to read! I’m trained as a print journalist, for the love of God. The printed word is my first love, be it the Beano or a second-hand Enid Blyton.
My extensive book collection is a family joke. It lined the downstairs toilet and my brother in particular would pay a visit to the “toilet library” to borrow.
And so – I reintroduced myself to Bill Bryson, to break myself in gently. It was like Tiger Balm for the soul.
Crucially, I’m rediscovering the beauty of reading with my girls. For Olivia’s sixth birthday, I bought her a set of Blyton’s Enchanted Wood and Magic Faraway Tree books. Bedtimes have been unsettled of late, but even if I don’t manage to get her into bed until 9pm, we can still snuggle and read together about Moonface, Silky and friends.
This week we went to see a theatre production of the Gruffalo’s Child. And yesterday, I took my youngest, Bryher, to see the BFG at the cinema (on what turned out to be the hottest day of the school holidays so far).
But most healing seems to be the words of Dr Seuss. Post-Gruffalo, the girls and I were browsing the books and toys at Waterstones (that sounds like a calm experience, it was chaos). I found Oh the Places You’ll Go!
I’d previously bought it for a friend’s daughter. I’d forgotten how awesome it was. So I bought it for myself.
“On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are….
… And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 per cent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!”
Such wisdom and counsel to be found in the children’s section of a bookshop.