Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shel Silverstein's Birthday, September 25 - Which Poem is in Your Pocket?

Happy Birthday Shel Silverstein - September 25

Poem in Your Pocket Day was celebrated for the eighth year in New York City on April 29, 2010.  On this day, everyone is encouraged to carry around a poem in their pocket to share with friends, family, and colleagues.  I thought, "What poems by Shel Silverstein would I have in my pocket, ready to share with others, on his birthday?"

I spent time going through many of Silverstein's books looking for the perfect poems. I copied some poems on the copy machine, but I thought it might be fun to just copy some by hand with black felt tip pen. There are several places you can find pocket sized poems, ready to share.  Poets.org has a few poems that print in a size that will fit in your pocket (PDF file- Where the Sidewalk Ends, If the World was Crazy, Web page - Sick, Mr. Grumpledump's Song).  A Google Image Search of "Shel Silverstein Poems" will give you quite a few poems to print too. Additionally, Read Write Think has a stapleless book that may be useful tool for your family.

I hope you will take a moment to comment on your favorite poem by Shel Silverstein.  There is a "Comments" section below or you can visit Happy Birthday Author's Facebook page to share your thoughts.

Shel Silverstein's poetry books were big part of my childhood.  I remember reading the poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends over and over again, especially "Boa Constrictor".  I also remember the excitement when I found out that Silverstein had wrote additional books!  It was very enjoyable to share these poems with my children this week.

Also, make sure you visit the Shel Silverstein YouTube page for animations of some of his poems.

Below is an excerpt for my previous Shel Silverstein Birthday Post, from 2007:

Happy Birthday Shel Silverstein - (September 25, 1932 - May 10, 1999) .
Note: Some sites have him being born in 1930.

I can remember as a child checking out Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein numerous times from the library. Still now, whenever I come across this book, whether at a bookstore, garage sale, or at the library with my daughter, I have to pick it up and read "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out" on page 70. This often leads me to flip through the book to look for poems that I remember enjoying back in the day like "Boa Constrictor", "The Planet Mars" and "Warning".

Shel Silverstein's book, The Giving Tree, is another popular book read by children. It also is a gift often given to mothers on Mother's Day and fathers on Father's Day. I even received it as a gift in college from fellow Resident's Life colleagues as a part of our staff development program. Additionally, my wife and I gave copies of this book to our education professors thanking them for everything that they had taught us.

As a songwriter, Shel Silverstein, was nominated for an Academy Award for the song "I'm Checkin' Out" for the movie, Postcards from the Edge. Two of his most well known songs he wrote include "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnnie Cash and "Hello Muddah, Hello Fuddah" for Allan Sherman. In 1984, he won a Grammy Award for the Best Children's Album with "Where the Sidewalk Ends".

All these examples exemplify the talent of Shel Silverstein to write for people of all ages to enjoy. His strange and twisted poems accompanied by the memorable illustrations will always be a favorite of mine. This made this week exciting to experience with my students when I was in the classroom. It was very important for me to expose them to the poems I grew to love at their age and later appreciated even more at my age.

I actually spent two weeks celebrating Shel Silverstein's birthday when I was in the classroom. I discussed many different styles and forms of poetry with my students using a Poetry Notebook. The students were able to write haiku poetry, quatrains, biography poems, etc. The students were extremely motivated to write because each form was clear in its approach. We also typed our completed poems on the computer, added clip art, and added a decorative border to display in the classroom. I would check out Shel Silverstein's website, if the Poetry Notebook doesn't fit your needs. There is a "Celebrate National Poetry Month in April" packet available for download that discusses many different aspects of poetry. In addition to this packet shelsilverstein.com has activities for children and a great biography.

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