If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer, If you’re a pretender, come, sit by my fire. For we have many a flaxgolden tale to spin.
-Invitation by Shel Silverstein
I was so giddy when I saw the prompt for this week and I knew the perfect book to share. Not only am I a music junkie I have always been obsessed with books. I wasn’t “taught” how to read; according to my mother, I picked up books from a very young age and I just started reading. Very Roald Dahl- Matilda-ish (if you haven’t read any Dahl and you’re a child at heart then he is a must-read author too).
My favorite books as a child were by this very intriguing man by the name of Shel Silverstein. He is well known for the book ‘The Giving Tree‘. As a child, and now as an adult and mom, that book still breaks my heart. But this post isn’t about that book (maybe another time), this post is about his collection of poems in ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’.
Silverstein was a poet and most definitely a wordsmith. He loved making up words to make his poems and stories welcoming. He wrote for the imagine-ers* and storytellers, to invite them into his world and create with him. Silverstein was also a self-taught illustrator too. He drew all of the images for his books and just as his words did, the images sucked you right in. He was well loved by children because of his imagination and to this day I still remember his poem about the Whatifs.
For Christmas this year I am introducing my son to Shel Silverstein. The amount of imagination that pours out of his books is a great way to keep my son interested in reading. I want my son to read these poems and ask questions and meet the Whatifs, because in a sense he already has! I want him to ask where does the sidewalk end and why does it have to end?
So many people give all of the credit to Dr. Seuss and while I do love a good rhyme and made-up creature, he just didn’t speak to me in that special way that Silverstein did. Maybe it was because Silverstein saw the world through kid-colored glasses, he was never one to talk down to a child, but he would sit down on the floor and reach them on their level.
I can’t wait to share this book and many others like ‘Falling Up’ and ‘A light in the attic’ with my son. I can’t wait for the hundreds of questions to follow. I can’t wait for the big toothy smile to spread across his face when he sees the pictures accompanying the funny made-up words. I can’t wait for him to be excited about reading almost as much as me.
Until then I leave you with this gem:
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.
Where the sidewalk ends and featured image by Shel Silverstein
*imagine-er: the author often made up words to make things appear to be more than. Like the word hope-er, he could say optimistic, but it isn’t a kid friendly word and to say “to be more hopeful” just wasn’t the same as using the made-up word.
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