Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein's collection of verse poetry will make you laugh from start to finish. Children as well as adults will find themselves having a hard time putting this book down once getting started. In a review by the Reading Teacher, it is "an ideal book for teachers to have handy ... If you want to ungloom your day, start Where the Sidewalk Ends.

His collection opens up with the invitation:

If you're a dreamer, come in

If you're a dreamer a wisher a liar

A hop-er, 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!

Silverstein's creative writing style engages the readers through his quirky wording, silly phrases, and pencil drawings that totally complement the text of each poem. As a child, I can remember laughing uncontrollably when my teacher read every poem aloud to our class.

Today, Shel Silverstein has CD's that accompany most of his poetry collections. It is amazing how much of any effect the author's voice alterations, pitches, and tone can impact the overall outcome of how a poem is recited. This was my first year using his CD to accompany some of my favorite poems. No matter how hard I tried, my characterization couldn't quite compare with his when reading his poems aloud! When playing "Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too," my students were able to see how a narrators voice can aid in the overall expression of the poem, while also depicted the tone, mood, and, in this case, humerous theme! They were also able to understand how all of these elements symbolize what poetry is, and how powerful this form of expression can be in reading and writing.

Shel Silverstein will continue to be a poetry collection shared with my students, as well as a book that I will pull "when I'm having one of those days." "Shel invited children to dream the impossible, from a hippotamus sandwich to the longest nose in the world to eighteen flavors of ice cream and Sarah Synthia Stouct wouldn't take the garbage out." His repetitive, rhythmic, and spontaneous rhyming schemes aid in the overall playfulness of his poems while making their way into children's hearts and minds.

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