It’s safe to say that Shel Silverstein was my first experience with poetry. Which may be why I’ve always though poetry was interesting and complex. I had a tape of Where the Sidewalk Ends and I listened to it all the time. I would listen to it as a I fell asleep letting the weird, funny voice of Mr. Silverstein echo in my brain. Enter this Deserted House always freaked me out, but in a good way. Even the title is ridiculously creepy, I got chills just writing it. The way he read his poetry was haunting but funny and I’ll never be able to get his voice out of my head.
What I love about Shel Silverstein’s writing is the way it’s so true to life. So many of his poems are absurd. They make very little sense but are so ridiculous it’s funny. I purchased A Light in the Attic to read to Jack and there have been several occasions where I’ve laughed out loud as I’m reading.
At the same time I think about The Giving Tree and how it left me sobbing on more than one occasion. His poems and stories have the power to make you think and make you laugh which is very rare in a lot of children’s literature today.
I think what’s lacking most in children’s books today is a sense of imagination. Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein made stuff up all the time. I’m sure it has inspired many people to think outside the box and come up with something amazing themselves.
Shel Silverstein’s poems and stories got my brain working on a deeper level than say The Bernstein Bears (which I also loved it just didn’t inspire me the way Mr. Silverstein did). The Bernstein Bears were about every day real world stuff. But Mr. Sliverstein lived somewhere in the absurd imagination. Listening to and reading his writing is what started my mind down the path of writing. I wanted to write things that made people laugh and think at the same time. Shel Silverstein’s work was probably one of the first things to make me think I really could.