In the Child Watch area at the YMCA I work at, I came across this poster up on the wall of an interesting looking man by the name of Shel Silverstein. After much interest in this poster, it hit me, this guy must have a lot to do with children, but in what way? So I researched him and it turns out he is an expert when it comes to adults and children, especially since he is the author of one of the most successful children’s books, The Giving Tree, which has steadily been selling since it was first released. Having over 23 books published since 1955, and not to mention all the albums, short stories and playwrights he has written, I’d say he is an excellent source for many different types of literature.
Silverstein styled himself in children’s books as Uncle Shelby, which I absolutely love because it makes the idea of a child reading his books comforting and rewarding. His widely known background with poetry has defined children’s literature in many ways and even created a new face for it. What makes him so unique is his form and how he expresses his love for all types of writing through his work. In the 1975 Publisher’s Weekly interview, he was asked how he became a children’s author because his style in the past mainly pertained to adults and in reply he said, “ I do eliminate certain things when I am writing for children if I think only an adult would get the idea, but then I drop it or save it”.
I found great interest in Silverstein, mainly because he is a writer who wants to leave a mark on his readers and has proved that through his work, which makes him truly inspiring. As he told Publisher’s weekly, “I would hope that people, no matter what age, would find something to identify with my books, pick up one and experience a personal sense of discovery”. As a writer who loves children’s books, I find Shel Silverstein to be one of the greatest writer’s alive and although he claims to be just an “ordinary guy,” through his work he personifies nobility and inspiration. I would recommend reading his work to children as they grow and have them live through a journey that he has set out for them through the eyes of literature.
Be sure to check out his work where you can see all of his poetry at the official site for kids.
by Rebecca Kassab