In my humble opinion, the best graduation message ever given did not come from a President or a Secretary of State. Nor did it come from a media mogul or billionaire, Bill Gates. It came from the desk of Theodor Geisel, who had a unique way of stirring literary arousal.
It came in the form of a book, because that’s what he did; he wrote dozens of books to entertain kids. No matter how young or old they might be, his books were the door to reading and learning.
His characters were a cat that wore a hat on its head; a fox that wore socks and a thing called Sam-I-Am. There was a Grinch with poor manners as mean as could be; and a community of people who were smaller than a flea.
His illustrations are bewildering, cute and funny; his words are often made-up, but literally on the money. He had lots of tricks and surprises up his giant sleeve, because you’d learn syntax, decoding, and alliteration with each read.
His punctuation was huge; oh, he loved the exclamation! And, the hyphen, and they comma, and ellipses on occasion.
Shortly before he died, he wrote his masterpiece; a book that sells gangbusters each June in wide release. His pen name was Dr. Seuss and he wrote from Seussville; a literary place that infatuates us still. The book is called, Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” It is an inspirational message for the graduates we know.
Rhyming aside, Oh, the Places You’ll Go” is a marvelous book about setting out into the world and gaining one’s bearings, while meeting life’s challenges and championing the ups-and downs.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”
And, there will be tough times because everyone has them:
“I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.”
“On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.”
And, after you go through the fire and climb walls put up before you, pick yourself up by the bootstraps, get out of the waiting pattern, and head towards your goals.
“Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.”
Then, believe and believe because you will succeed! According to Seuss:
“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(8 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”
Dr. Seuss was quite masterful at rhyming. He used anapestic tetrameter,* trochaic tetrameter,** and iambic tetrameter.*** His use of rhyming made reading fun and as I stated above, it developed reading skills. I’ve always felt the best teachers of children (or anyone for that matter) are ones who make learning fun; and get a child to learn without them even knowing it. Dr. Seuss is so important today that on his birthday, March 2nd, schools across the world celebrate him with reading festivals and special, literary events. Ours was one of them.
If you’re looking for a graduation present to give someone, Oh, the Places You’ll Go is a wonderful choice. And, if you’re looking for just a great book to inspire and motivate your child, you can’t go wrong with this book. As the parent of a child with autism, I often encourage my son to think positive and believe in himself. I’ve read this book to him many, many times.
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* Anapestic tetrameter is a poetic meter that has four anapestic metrical feet per line. Each foot has two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable. It is sometimes referred to as a “reverse dactyl”, and shares the rapid, driving pace of the dactyl. Example: The Cat In The Hat.
** Trochaic tetrameter is a meter in poetry. It refers to a line of four trochaic feet. The word “tetrameter” simply means that the poem has four trochees. A trochee is a long syllable, or stressed syllable, followed by a short, or unstressed, one. Example: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
*** Iambic pentameter is a commonly used metrical line in traditional verse and verse drama. The term describes the particular rhythm that the words establish in that line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called “feet”. The word “iambic” describes the type of foot that is used (in English, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable). The word “pentameter” indicates that a line has five of these “feet.” Example: Green Eggs & Ham