Shel Silverstein (born Sheldon Allan Silverstein in 1930) is best known for his quirky children's poetry and stories, but he also wrote, composed and drew for grownups. His award-winning children's books include "Where the Sidewalk Ends", "A Light in the Attic" and "The Missing Piece." His song credits include the lyrics to "A Boy Named Sue" (recorded by Johnny Cash) and the theme song for "Thelma & Louise."
"Silverstein's work, which he illustrated himself, is characterized by a deft mixing of the sly and the serious, the macabre and the just plain silly." The Academy of Poets honors Silverstein with a short bio and links to related resources. In the right-hand column, you'll find two poems: "Mr. Grumpledump's Song" and "Sick." In the left-hand column, you'll find Further Reading (such as an article about reading poetry with children) and links to external sites.
"Silverstein's flair for fun, tinged with a bit of naughtiness, makes his books enormously popular with kids. Altogether his titles have sold more than 18 million copies around the world and have been translated into twenty different languages." Visit Kids Reads for a short Silverstein bio, a list of his children's books, and a page of Silverstein trivia. Best of all, when you're done, there are oodles of other authors to explore.
In 2005, six years after Silverstein's death, two new works were released: a CD with many of his most loved poems and songs, and a book of previously unpublished spoonerism rhymes "Runny Babbit." Listen to this NPR "All Things Considered" interview with Silverstein's nephew Mitch Myers (editor of the "Runny Babbit"collection) and click around to read some of the poems. "Runny Babbit with his axe / Chopped down a trerry chee. / When Raddy Babbit asked, 'Do whid it?' / Runny said, 'Mot ne'."
Silverstein's Official Site for Kids is a joy to play around in, and is my pick of the day. The high-bandwidth version has more bounce, but they both have the same basic content. Visit for the games (such as Finish Shel's Poems), the terrific printables (a coloring book, a bookmark, and two Poetry Kits) and to watch animated video clips from Silverstein's poems and books (some performed by Silverstein himself.) To view the animations, click on To Memorize Tomorrow, and then choose a Silverstein book.
Underwater Land is an audio CD of seventeen underwater songs, written by Silverstein and sung by his long-time friend Pat Daily "for minnows of all ages." I know that song samples can be frustrating (when you don't get to hear the entire song), but I thought these were so delightful, they deserved a place in today's picks. Click on any of the ten underlined songs to listen in Real Audio format.