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Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!

Image: Finding My Balance.

Today is Shel Silverstein’s birthday! I don’ t know about you, but when I was between the ages of 8-10, I thought Shel was the ultimate poet. Sorry Walt Whitman, apologies e.e. cummings, but you really can’t hold a candle to the beauty of Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout who would not take the garbage out. At least in the mind of a third grader.

Shel Silverstein wasn’t just an amazing children’s writer. He was a profoundly creative person writing songs for Johnny Cash (he wrote “A Boy Named Sue”) and started his career creating cartoons for Playboy.  But really, his writing for children is pretty darn marvelous. Sometimes rogue, sometimes gross, and sometimes so completely spot on and heartening.  Like these:.


Oh yeah–and he gave us this book… As I get older and read it again, my thoughts on the book change.  So simple, yet so profound. Particularly as a parent. Oh, to read this as a parent is insane–like reading a different book.



Sadly, Shel died in 1999, but his work will be read by kids all over the world with a giggle.

I can’t wait to introduce the Peach to him!  Do you remember any of his poems?


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8 Responses

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  1. jeannie says

    I was a huge Shel Silverstein fan as a kid! Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout was my fave. Also loved the one that began “inside everyone’s nose lives a sharp toothed snail…”

    • Dottie says

      Ahh! Totally! I also remember that nail one. It was the book that every kid had on their bookshelf growing up!

  2. jess judkins says

    I had no idea he wrote that song for Johnny Cash!

    • Dottie says

      I know, right? And also, he had a rather tragic life–his wife died and then his daughter died! So tragic, and yet he continued to write such wonderful lighthearted positive things.

  3. Amber Liddle says

    Someone got Where the Sidewalk Ends for Ingrid’s 4th bday and she loves it! I have to admit, I always like when she chooses to read that at bedtime.

    • Dottie says

      What a great present for a kid! Alix, does Wolfie have that book? If not, expect it from Auntie Dottie!!!!

  4. cora says

    Such a neat man! I cant wait to read his books to my boy. Ohh, The Giving Tree…!

  5. fuzzymama says

    I loved the poem about the babysitter—sitting on the baby—-and all his stuff. My fifth grade teacher read us THE GIVING TREE and cried while she read it. I read all of his books to my students when I taught–I brought his poetry books on our bathroom breaks and read the class poems as the waited in line and filed in and out of the bathroom!! I consider him pivotal in getting some of my reluctant readers interested in books! Thanks for the post!!!

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