I was so lucky to have parents and teachers that encouraged my reading and writing developments as a young girl. While my parents were always willing to sit down and share a bedtime story my teachers were always introducing me to countless award winning books and illustrations that immensely enhanced my experiences as a young reader. But although I have read immeasurable amounts of literature throughout my childhood into my college years, one children’s novel in particular continues to be revisited year after year. Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth is a story of a Milo, a boy who does not find much interest in, well, anything at all. Returning from another pointless, countless day at school Milo finds in his room a kid-sized tollbooth and car with simply one instruction: enter one token. After much debate, Milo inserts one token, drives through the tollbooth, and continues into the world of Lands Beyond. Reaching his first destination, the land of Expectations, Milo learns that two princesses, Rhyme and Reason, have banished. Suddenly feeling a passion for learning and adventure, Milo takes on the task of finding the princesses and returning them to their kingdom. With a watchdog named Tock and a Humbug at his side, Milo ventures through lands such as Dictionopolis, Digitopilis and Infinity meeting news friends (and enemies) such as the Whether man, Officer Shrift, Spelling Bee, and Dodecahedrons. Throughout his adventure Milo learns to learn, and enjoys learning. Completing his adventure, Milo returns home a new person: happy, interested, busy, and ready to learn.
Introducing this book into my classroom would have many benefits to both my curriculum and students. The Phantom Tollbooth does a wonderful job of using both comedy and word play to introduce grammatical, mathematical, and literate information. With an entertaining and exploratory plot, the reader is engaged in comedic and fantasy-filled exploration of learning. To use this book as an introduction to a new mathematic curriculum or literacy lesson would help ease my students’ fears or previous notions about undesirable subject matters such as dreaded division or pointless paragraph formation.
To this day, I still find myself laughing out loud and learning new things while reading The Phantom Tollbooth. Although the children’s novel is comprised of hidden adult humor and puns that children may not quite understand, the book does a wonderful job of portraying learning as fun and adventurous. I highly recommend it to anyone of any age. Below is a link that brings you to Amazon’s website for The Phantom Tollbooth. Use it, I promise you will thoroughly enjoy the novel.