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Wed, 21 October 2020

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The Book that Changed My Life: The Cat in the Hat

The Book that Changed My Life: The Cat in the Hat

My mum was determined that I wouldn’t leave school without any qualifications as she did, writes Wes Streeting . | PA Images

2 min read

In the latest in our series on the books that have influenced or inspired Parliamentarians, Wes Streeting describes how his early life chances were given a boost by the silliness of Dr Seuss

I was brought up to be an avid reader. My mum, who gave birth to me not long before her 19th birthday, was absolutely determined that I wouldn’t leave school without any qualifications, as she did, and wouldn’t be made to feel stupid or inferior, as she was so often made to feel at school.

It was for that reason, I later discovered, that I grew up with a bookcase filled with books. I still remember the day she bought me The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss. She told me it had been one of her favourite books and we would read it together.

I loved The Cat in the Hat.

The rhyme, the rhythm, the sheer silliness of it all. The top hat. The bow tie. The pandemonium that followed.

We know that so many children from working class families like mine arrive at school already lagging behind their peers

We know that so many children from working class families like mine arrive at school already lagging behind their peers.

That story of educational disadvantage in our country is such that the life chances of kids from poorer backgrounds are limited before they even have a chance to dream about their futures.

There are plenty of other books that fuelled my insatiable love of reading and there are plenty of books that have changed my life or influenced my political outlook and values in one way or another.

But The Cat in the Hat is the one I share with my mum. Without it, I might not have been able to enjoy the rest of them.

 

Wes Streeting is Labour MP for Ilford North and shadow exchequer secretary

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