#10 – The Phantom Tollbooth

Why: It taught me the values of reading.

I was in high school when Grandmother saw me reading a book. It was some novel assigned in English literature class. She looked at the cover and said in her opinion reading was a waste of time. I didn’t know if she meant novels or all types of reading. I was too polite to point out she spends most of every Sunday afternoon doing the NYT crossword puzzle or her many hours playing bridge seemed a waste of time to me. Mostly I was stunned. It was as if someone told me going to school was a waste of time. Reading came naturally to me as breathing. 

Children books in contrast to those for written for adults have two jobs. Not only do they entertain but they teach children about reading: how to read, how to think about what is being read, and most important of all reading is a pleasure and vital.

Mr. Juster – clever man! – has the young reader reading about a boy named Milo who, bored with everything, goes on a journey to literally find Wisdom. After Milo accomplishes this he doesn’t feel the need to return to that particular place:

“Well, I would like to make another trip, but I really don’t know when I’ll have the time. There’s just so much to do right here”

I felt the same way at the book’s conclusion; I wanted to go right out and read as much as I could. 

“The Phantom Tollbooth” is a book I’ve exalted many times on my blog. The point for today is this is the first book in which I connected the dots a book isn’t just as story but a marvelous composition, a work of art, and provides thought as well as entertainment. Do I dare say it was my Helen Keller ‘water” experience? 

I suppose if there was one book in this twelve-part series that really changed my life it is this one. ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ transformed me into a reader.