October 2015


The Phantom Tollbooth

Norton Juster

For Milo, everything in life seems to be a bore. Wherever he was, he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there, he wondered why he'd bothered. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he goes through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions where he learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock and embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing: Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams!

A Note from the First Lady:

Dear Read20 Book Club families,

The Phantom Tollbooth is a fantasy novel about a ten-year-old boy named Milo who learns to appreciate the ordinary things in life through a wondrous journey to a mysterious land. The wit, humor, and wordplay in this book will really stretch your imagination. In fact, author Norton Juster’s writing style often turns language upside down!

Reading fantasy books can be a great way to grow a child’s imagination and creative thinking. Did you know that child-development experts believe these skills help children be more successful in school and in life? Imagination is necessary for learning about people and events we don't directly experience, such as history or events on the other side of the world. And for young kids, it allows them to ponder the future, such as what they want to do when they grow up.

I hope that you enjoy reading The Phantom Tollbooth and that you will check out other fantasy books one you finish the book of the month!

Keep up the great reading!

Crissy Haslam
First Lady of Tennessee


Family Friendly Activities for the Book of the Month

  1. In the beginning of the book, Milo is very bored with his life. Have you ever complained that you are bored? Under what circumstances might you feel bored and what can you do to avoid feeling that way? Do you know anyone who is often bored for things to do? What would you recommend that this person do to reduce their boredom?

  2. To understand The Phantom Tollbooth to the fullest, a great command of language is necessary, including vocabulary, wordplay, and the meaning of complex phrases. As you read the book, write down the words and phrases you do not understand. Ask a parent to explain each meaning or help you to look up the word definitions online or in a paper dictionary. Reading can be one of the best ways to grow your vocabulary if you take the time to learn new words!

  3. Use your imagination to draw a picture of the land that Milo visited and the characters who he met. What would you do if you could take your own trip to the lands of Wisdom? Draw yourself into the picture, and describe to your family what is taking place in the scene.

  4. Write your own fantasy story in which you drive through the Phantom Tollbooth into a fantasyland. Be sure to include lots of details! What does your mythical place look like? What kind of characters would you like to meet in your story and what adventures take place? Once you finish your story, read it aloud to a friend or family member!