a 30th Anniversary Edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends
Although a three year old might not dig Shel Silverstein I figured it was a long-term present. I was vastly relieved when the mom who picked my book had a 5 year old. She was the perfect age for the book. Imagine my surprise when the mom opened the book and nearly burst into tears. She announced to the room, "Who would buy an adult book for a child?" in a snide, disappointed voice. I wanted nothing more than to crawl out of the room. This woman obviously had no idea who Shel Silverstein was.
So I am posting here for anyone who doesn't know Shel Silverstein. His work is amazing. And more than anything it is poetry that should be read aloud (as should all poetry, in my opinion).
Lately my boys are getting into reading longer books on their own. But interestingly, they have no desire to move even further up the reading scale and have me read them longer books. While their friends are starting to listen to Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia Eldest and Boy2 still prefer if I read them picture books. Last week Eldest picked up Where the Sidewalk Ends (I bought my own copy at the same time I bought the gift. It has remained on the shelf for a number of years) and they are hooked. Every night they ask for more poems. Both boys want me to read the same book - which is a small miracle of its own.
The cadence of poetry begs to be read aloud. The silly themes in Silverstein's work appeals to kids of all ages. In school over 50% of my classmates chose to memorize Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout when we had to recite a poem (while I proudly stood and read Robert Frost's The Mending Wall). Yet as an adult I find I am enjoying the books on a whole different level. Silverstein thrives on the acceptability of difference. For any child who has ever felt awkward or like they didn't fit in, there is a Shel Silverstein poem that will speak to him or her.
A couple of months ago I picked out The Giving Tree and read it to Boy2 who listened appreciatively. At bedtime he asked me to read it again. The next day Eldest grabbed it from his brother's room but never said anything about it. When it came time to return the book to the library I asked if he had read it. His comment, "I didn't think I'd like it from looking at the pictures. But, it was actually really good." I would call that high praise from a 7 year old.