Shel Silverstein The Voice of Childhood


Like many children, my son adored Shel Silverstein.  We read his poems so many times our books are falling apart.  When he was around four I read him “Afraid of the Dark”.

I’m Reginald Clark, I’m afraid of the dark
So I always insist on the light on,
And my teddy to hug,
And my blanket to rub,
And my thumby to suck or to bite on.
And three bedtime stories,
Two trips to the toilet,
Two prayers, and five hugs from my mommy,
I’m Reginald Clark, I’m afraid from the dark
So please do not close this book on me.

We kept the book open for nearly a month before he finally forgot why we had it open.  Now, while most of Silverstein’s poems are funny and lighthearted, there are some that are deep and meaningful.  When I was younger I had a strong desire to open a children’s book store (economically speaking, not in the cards anymore) and I always thought that one particular Silverstein poem would be a fantastic mural for it.

“If you are a dreamer come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hoper, a pray-er, a magic-bean-buyer.
If you’re a pretender come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!”

How beautiful is that poem?  There was also this one, which used to make me cry when I was pregnant!

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.

There are times when I read this poem and it still makes me tear up.  There’s just something so poignant and touching about it.  I could go through and write hundreds of Silverstein poems that I adore!  Do you have a favorite?


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