Shel Silverstein Poems
                                                                                                      Artwork by Justin Ridge

Shel Silverstein Poems have been a staple on children's reading lists for nearly five decades. Silverstein himself began to write and draw as a child in his native Chicago. After a brief sojourn at the Art Institute of Chicago, he enlisted in the US armed forces during the Korean War, where he landed a job at 'Stars and Stripes', the official newspaper of the US Military.

Working on the paper a cartoonist, he created the 'Take Ten' comic series which later became the title of his first book.

After completion of his military service, Shel returned to Chicago where he began to submit illustrations to national publications. His work soon appeared in magazines such as Sports Illustrated.

In 1957 he was hired as a cartoonist by Playboy Magazine, where he produced a series called "Shel Silverstein Visits', documenting his travels around the world on behalf of the publication.

Silverstein was encouraged to write children's poems by his editor at Harper Collins, Ursula Nordstrom. In 1964, he published his first book of Shel Silverstein poems for children called “The Giving Tree," and went on to win the New York Times Outstanding Book Award in 1974 for his work "Where the Sidewalk Ends."

"The Missing Piece Meets the Big O," a sequel to "The Missing Piece," won the International Reading Association's Children's Choice Award in 1982. A more recent work of Shel Silverstein poems is called, "Falling Up: Poems and Drawings," which appeared in bookstores in 1996, and was roundly acclaimed by critics.

In addition to writing poetry he was an accomplished playwright and songwriter. Silverstein went on to pen 12 books of poetry and illustrations for children, introducing youth to such beloved characters as Headphone Harold, and Danny O'Dare, the dancin' bear. HIs characters are whimsical and endearing, and feature prominently throughout Shel Silverstein poems.

Shel Silverstein died in 1999.

We are pleased to announce that a new work of previously unpublished Shel Silverstein poems has just been released. It is called "Everything On It," and may be purchased by clicking here.

Below you will find a sampling of Shel Silverstein poems for children.

Where The Sidewalk Ends

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. 

Messy Room

Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.
His workbook is wedged in the window,
His sweater's been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.
His books are all jammed in the closet,
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or--
Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,
I knew it looked familiar!

A Light In The Attic

There's a light on in the attic.
Thought the house is dark and shuttered,
I can see a flickerin' flutter,
And I know what it's about.
There's a light on in the attic.
I can see it from the outside.
And I know you're on the inside... lookin' out. 

Italian Food

Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just 'cause how good it tastes
But 'cause how good it rhymes.
Minestrone, cannelloni,
Macaroni, rigatoni,
Spaghettini, scallopini,
Escarole, braciole,
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Marinara, carbonara,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese,
Ravioli, mostaccioli,
Mozzarella, tagliatelle,
Fried zucchini, rollatini,
Fettuccine, green linguine,
Tortellini, Tetrazzini,
Oops—I think I split my jeani.

Dirty Clothes

Some put 'em in a washer,
Some toss 'em in a tub,
Some dump 'em in a laundry truck
For someone else to scrub.
Some stick 'em in a hamper,
Some stuff 'em in a sack.
I never worry 'bout 'em—
I just keep 'em on my back

Ticklish Tom

Did you hear 'bout Ticklish Tom?
He got tickled by his mom.
Wiggled and giggled and fell on the floor,
Laughed and rolled right out the door.
All the way to school and then
He got tickled by his friends.
Laughed till he fell off his stool,
Laughed and rolled right out of school
Down the stairs and finally stopped
Till he got tickled by a cop.
And all the more that he kept gigglin',
All the more folks kept ticklin'.ticklish Tom
He shrieked and screamed and rolled around,
Laughed his way right out of town.
Through the country down the road,
He got tickled by a toad.
Past the mountains across the plain,
Tickled by the falling rain,
Tickled by the soft brown grass,
Tickled by the clouds that passed.
Giggling, rolling on his back
He rolled on the railroad track.
Rumble, rumble, whistle, roar--
Tom ain't ticklish any more.

The Loser

Mama said I'd lose my head
if it wasn't fastened on.
Today I guess it wasn't
'cause while playing with my cousin
it fell off and rolled away
and now it's gone.

And I can't look for it
'cause my eyes are in it,
and I can't call to it
'cause my mouth is on it
(couldn't hear me anyway
'cause my ears are on it),
can't even think about it
'cause my brain is in it.
So I guess I'll sit down
on this rock
and rest for just a minute...

The Meehoo with an Exactlywatt

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Me who?
That's right!
What's right?
That's what I want to know!
What's what you want to know?
Me, who?
Yes, exactly!
Exactly what?
Yes, I have an Exactlywatt on a chain!
Exactly what on a chain?
Yes what?
No, Exactlywatt!
That's what I want to know!
I told you - Exactlywatt!
Exactly what?
Yes what?
Yes, it's with me!
What's with you?
Exactlywatt - that's what's with me.
Me who?
Go away!
Knock knock...


Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow talle?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Danny O'Dare

Danny O'Dare, the dancin' bear,
Ran away from the County Fair,
Ran right up to my back stair
And thought he'd do some dancin' there.
He started jumpin' and skippin' and kickin',
He did a dance called the Funky Chicken,
He did the Polka, he did the Twist,
He bent himself into a pretzel like this.
He did the Dog and the Jitterbug,
He did the Jerk and the Bunny Hug.
He did the Waltz and the Boogaloo,
He did the Hokey-Pokey too.
He did the Bop and the Mashed Potata,
He did the Split and the See Ya Later.
And now he's down upon one knee,
Bowin' oh so charmingly,
And winkin' and smilin'--it's easy to see
Danny O'Dare wants to dance with me.

Poetry by Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

Information on Shel Silverstein poems provided by various sources                
For additional background on Shel Silverstein poems, visit the 
Shel Silverstein website or the Shel Silvertein page on Wikipedia

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