Read to Know, Read to Grow
By Susan M. Dailey

Before I told this story, I taught the audience the "Read to Know" refrain and the sign language for the following words:  read, know, grow, answer, book.

       Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed had the most gigantic name in all the land of the giants. Unfortunately, his size didn’t match his name for he wasn’t any taller than any of you. Although your size is perfect for you, it is rather tiny for a giant!

       The other giants didn’t call him Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed or Peter or Pete or even Petey. No, they called him by his initials…Peewee. The other giants would chant, “Peewee, Peewee, smaller than a bee’s knees.”

       One day, Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed climbed the mountain to ask advise from the Wise One who lived there.

       “What can I do for you, Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed?” asked the Wise One.

       “Please, I’d like to grow.”

       The Wise One looked at him and said:

                   Read to Know, Read to Grow
                   The answer’s in a book

and pointed to his library lined with billions of books.

       Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed went into the library. On the bottom shelf he found a book called “Grow Mighty Muscles in a Dozen Days.” He read the book and did just as it said. And although he lifted tons of weights, ran miles and miles and did jillions of jumping jacks, Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed did not grow any taller.

       The other giants still teased, “Peewee, Peewee, smaller than a bee’s knees.”

       Now, Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed could have hit the other giants. He had grown pretty strong, but his mother had taught him that fighting was not the answer. So he headed back up the mountain.

       “I want to grow,” he said to the Wise One.

       The Wise One looked at him and said:

                   Read to Know, Read to Grow
                   The answer’s in a book

and again pointed to his library lined with billions of books.

       Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed picked a book called “Grow Yourself Tall.” He read the book and did as it said. He ate piles of peas, cartloads of carrots and acres of apples. He felt good, but he didn’t grow more than a millimeter.

       The other giants still teased, “Peewee, Peewee, smaller than a bee’s knees.”

       Again Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed climbed the mountain to ask the Wise One.

       This time he said, “I need to grow!”

       The Wise One looked at him and said:

                   Read to Know, Read to Grow
                   The answer’s in a book

       Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed went into the library. He stood on his tippytoes. On the top shelf he found a book called “Grow Absolutely Anything.” He read the book and did as it said. He went to his garden and pulled the weeds. He loosened the dirt with a rake. Then he dug a hole. He filled the bottom with things from his compost pile—wilting lettuce leaves, slimy potato peelings and stinky apple cores. He jumped down into the hole. Then he pulled the soil back into the hole until he was standing in dirt up to his knees. Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed waited in the sunshine and the rain.

       “What are you doing, Peewee?” asked the other giants.

       “I’m growing.”

       The other giants laughed and laughed. Then they chanted, “Peewee, Peewee, smaller than a bee’s knees. Peewee, Peewee, dumber than a box of rocks.”

       “I might not be able to do anything about growing taller,” shouted Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed, “but I can grow smarter!”

       He headed up the mountain again. This time he went right to the library. He began to read. He read about dinosaurs and stars and animals. He read books about hot to build things and fix things and grow things. He read stories and poems, game books and joke books. He read and read and read some more.

       So when his neighbor’s roof leaked, Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed showed him how to fix it. When the king’s cat got sick, Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed knew how to make it well. And when the other giants were sad or bored, he told them jokes and taught them games he’d learned from the books.

       So when the old king died, the other giants said, “Please, will you be King Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed?”

       “No, thank you,” he said. “But I will be King Peewee.”

       To which, the other giants chanted, “Long live, King Peewee the Wise!”

       Peter Elmer Ebenezer William Eggbert Ed looked at them and said:

                   Read to Know, Read to Grow
                   The answer’s in a book

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* This story can be used freely in programs, but may not be re-posted, reproduced, or sold without prior permission.