Nostalgia Reads: Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

nos·tal·gia [no-stal-juh] – noun:

A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

You may recognize these lines from Shel Silverstein’s classic Where the Sidewalk Ends. One of the clear memories I have of visiting the school library when I was very young is wanting to get my hands on Silverstein’s books. They had all these weird drawings and silly words and so many rhymes! I recall that oftentimes they were checked out, but when they weren’t, my friends and I would gather around and giggle over poem after nonsensical poem.

I’m not really one for poetry, but to this day I enjoy his work and it still makes me chuckle. I have a few of his books in my personal library and they’re wonderful for a trip down memory lane, as well as a few laughs. April was National Poetry Month and the Read to a Child program I volunteer with brought out some of Shel’s books – I was so excited! I snagged A Light in the Attic and was ready to dive in with my little reader, but to my (extreme) disappointment, he wouldn’t even give Shel a chance. No way did he want me to read anything from that book to him!

Like many great writers, it seems that Shel was rejected for years. Many publishers found his book, The Giving Tree, moving and beautiful, but feared it wouldn’t sell because it might be too sad, or it wasn’t quite appropriate for children or adults. I’m so glad that he was finally given the chance to put his work out into the world! I’ve learned from browsing his website that Shel was not only a writer, but a musician as well. He even won a grammy for his album for Where the Sidewalk Ends. I don’t remember if we ever listened to his work when I was in school, but part of me feels like we might have.

Silverstein has inspired countless creations across various forms of media, such as more poetry and art, jewelry with quotes, quilts, writers blocks (yes, actual blocks!), pins, notebooks and even candles! I’m sure I tried my hand at a few silly poems after reading his work as a kid.

I love that Shel’s work can be serious and sad as well as whimsical and humorous – for those kids out there who look for a touch of something different, his work is refreshing. If you’ve never read his work, I highly suggest picking up and of his books, but I personally love these four, as they’re the ones I read most as a child:

Do you have a favorite Silverstein book or poem?

All artwork used is from Shel’s website. For games and puzzles, activity kits, book information, and some tidbits from Shel’s life, I recommend you check it out!

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