The Magic of Reading

We spend a significant amount of time in the car. Many years ago, we started listening to books in the car. We listen to some series over and over. In recent years, I’ve added to our listening library and included more classic literature and historical fiction.

On a recent trip, we listened to The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Though first published in 1961, the opening scene isn’t much different from many homes today. Ten-year-old Milo is “bored.” Despite a room full of toys and books and a great yard to play in, he looks around and thinks there is nothing to do – until he sees a mystery box that contains a note and a magic tollbooth. 

The adventure that follows is filled with puns, lessons in literature and math, and life lessons as well. For example, as Milo drives along in his toy car, he stops thinking and realizes that he’s no longer moving. In life, when we stop thinking – or more accurately, critically thinking – we also stop moving, learning, and growing. 

While the math puns added humor and value to the story, I’m a word girl and enjoyed the literary puns much more. The importance of words and the impact they have is a central element in this story. In any given situation, we have choices. We can ask “Why me?” or “What can I do with this opportunity?” We can sulk indefinitely and feel sorry for ourselves or we can take action, even serve others. We can defeat our own efforts with words like “can’t” or we can learn new things and add to our experiences. 

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