How the Inch Stole Reading

  • (A Cautionary Holiday Tale)
    David Hoffman 
    With apologies and gratitude to Dr. Seuss
    By David Hoffman
    Every child in Island-ville liked reading a lot. . .
    Except for the Inch who disliked all food for thought
    He didn’t read novels or great poems or plays
    Not one single word or sentence or phrase
    I’m the world’s worst reader,” he’d proudly exclaim,
    So his brain shrunk an inch, and he earned his short name 
    Some say he avoided reading ‘cause he didn’t know how
    This suggestion causes one to raise an eyebrow.
    For the Inch was a level four reader, a star comprehender,
    As a youngster, he was a library’s best friender
    He had read Tolstoy at two, Orwell at one
    At age three he re-read all of Shakespeare for fun
    His report card had noted, “Literacy skills are secured.”
    It was simply a cinch for the Inch to read every word.
    So, for whatever the reason and despite his good breeding
    The Inch became Pres of the Club, Anti-Reading
    His own private guild had just one slogan to it:
    “If you need to read—then by all means—DON’T DO IT!”
    He watched as the young ones read books by the dozen
    He tried to think of a way to stop them, but his small brain wasn’t buzzin’.
    “How can I rid the world of this insidious habit?
    If I could dream up a scheme, then I’d wake up and grab it.”
    Then, one frosty December while watching T.V.,
    The Inch met the Grinch and jumped up in glee
    The Doctor Seuss classic of one Looney Tuner
    Inspired a plan that was simply quite lunar
    (Had the Inch read the book, the plan would have arrived sooner)
    So that holiday season, while children slept soundly
    The Inch hatched his plan, and he did it profoundly
    He loaded his wagon with bags filled with trouble
    Crept into the darkness and worked on the double
    He went down the chimneys and quietly took
    Each magazine, journal, newspaper and book
       (even e-readers, Kindles, ipads and Nooks)
    Quickly and stealthily, he dodged and zig-zagged
    He gleefully laughed while he book-napped and bagged
    “Goodbye Hardy Boys and other dear friends
    Sorry, but this is Where [Your] Sidewalk Ends
    Adios Charlotte’s Web, I always did dread you
    I haven’t all night, so I must now de-thread you.”
    (At one house, the Inch pinched something much worse
    He nabbed a copy of Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse!)
    Soon most of the books were a thing of the past
    And to guarantee that his grand plan would last
    The Inch left each child a spellbinding gift
    As an unspoken token of his evil lift 
    Then, just before morn, on a clear X-mas day
    The Inch took his last book and went on his way
    He headed toward home with books he would bury
    Believing his thieving would make his life merry
    Meanwhile the children awoke with great glee
    Wondering which books lay under their tree
    Some wanted Pooh, a book for the ages
    All couldn’t wait to start turning new pages
    But instead of fine books, they found computerized toys
    With names like Wii, X-Box and Nintendo Game Boys
    Their thumbs started movin’, their eyes stopped their blinkin’
    And soon, my dear reader, their minds stopped their thinkin’
    With eyes fixed on screens instead of great print
    Their imaginations soon started to squint
    In one week their brain cells decided to strike
    The kids paid no heed as they sat Zombie-like
    (By the first of the year, with all book reading shirked,
    It appeared Inch’s plan had incredibly worked)
    (How will this all end?  Is there hope for our learners?
    The suspense hooks one in like the best of page-turners
    If you’re holding your breath, then it’s time to exhale
    This poem’s not as grim as A Grimm’s fairy tale)
    It began with an infant who found things unfunny
    She cried and she cried for her book, Pat the Bunny
    Which caused a small child, too young for electronics,
    To scream, “Produce Dr. Seuss so I can practice my phonics.”
    His sonic boom clamor for some Green Eggs and Ham-er
    Opened up minds like a base clearing, grand slammer
    Children awoke from their trances with inquisitive looks
    They rose to their toes and began looking for books
    They canvassed the streets in search of some tomes
    They knocked on the doors of the library-less homes
    Still empty-handed, at the end of their road
    They came upon the Inch’s abode
    With saddened expressions and eyes all a-blurr
    They bravely asked if he owned liter-a-ture
    Their desperate situation, caused the greatest of surprises
    Just like the Grinch’s, the Inch’s heart grew three sizes
                (But it wasn’t just his heart that needed some sparin’
                It was his shrinker-of-a-thinker that needed repairin’)
    Oh, what could he do to help the deprived?
    The children now gone, once again he connived.
    This time, however, kind actions were tempty
    But when it came to ideas, his small mind stayed empty
    So the Inch dug up the books he had hid on his site
    And he read every one for an idea that was bright
    He read A and Z authors, and those in-between
    Until he came upon one Shel Silverstein
    There between The Giving Trees’ covers
    The Inch realized the importance of helping out others
    He read the Missing Piece and sat there astounded
    He discovered a flawed person could still be well-rounded
    And that’s when the Inch got his loud wake up call
    That reading’s the greatest gift of them all
    It’s the gift that we always can give to ourselves
    And it’s always as close as the books on one’s shelves
    Armed with new knowledge and empathy too
    The Inch’s small brain awoke and then grew
    It grew and it grew, like a tummy well fed
    ‘Til it resembled a Mr. Potato-like head
    Then, under the cover of night’s calming song
    Inch packed up the lost goods and righted his wrong
    He returned all the kids’ books along with some new ones
    (He even remembered to deliver the Pooh ones)
    And what happened then?  
    Well… in Island-ville they say
    That the Inch never stopped reading
    (He continues today)
    And as for your Game Boy, X-Box, or Play Station?
    Remember dear reader:  it’s about moderation
    For too much of anything can never succeed
    Except kindness towards others and a good book to read

    Happy Holidays
    Mr. Hoffman