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A Book Becomes The Best Graduation Present Ever


Brenna Martin, an 18-year-old living in Kenly, North Carolina, just graduated from high school. Upon graduation, her father Bryan Martin gave her a gift: a copy of the Dr. Seuss classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go!.

For those unfamiliar with the book, it is entirely characteristic of Seuss in terms of rhyme and scansion and all that good stuff, but it’s surprisingly devoid of ting-tanglers and whizz-whatsits. It’s actually fairly deep and serious, a lighthearted but meaningful poem meant to inspire a young person to be brave and take heart as they embark on a new adventure. It’s hard to read the poem and not be moved by it, as it so perfectly encapsulates what we’d wish and hope for the young people we love as they start to make their way in the world.

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
any direction you choose.

That’s how the poem starts, and it goes on from there, not shying away from trials and tribulations, even touching on loneliness and challenges and fear and confusion and all the rest. In short, it is a perfect gift for graduation. And as a result, it has been rather done to death and as a result, perhaps that meaning has been somewhat diluted by the same message being handed to grads all over the place (yes, I know, I’m a cynic and a bad person).

So how did Bryan Martin neatly sidestep that issue, and create one of the most special and irreplaceable gifts a person can receive?

He bought the copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! 13 years ago, when Brenna was five. And didn’t tell her about it. And for the past 13 years, as he watched her grown through kindergarten, through elementary and middle school grades and on to high school, and watched her grow up and no doubt meet and lose friends, try things and succeed, try things and fail, and be afraid to try things, he has been secretly slipping the book to her teachers, her coaches, important people in her life, so that this book, already full of an inspiring poem by Dr. Seuss, was also full of deeply personal, encouraging messages meant for Brenna alone. So that when she opened the book, it became a time capsule of sorts, from people who had meant the world to her at different stages in her life, urging her forward and cheering her on. What an absolutely fantastic treasure for her.

I hope she’s got something good in mind for next Father’s Day.

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

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