Top Three Things I Learned from Shel Silverstein’s Every Thing On It

When I picked up Every Thing On It last fall, I expected the poems and illustrations so uniquely Shel Silverstein to remind me of being a kid again – silly, awkward, dreamy.  And they did.  But they did more.  Several of his poems connected to my adult life – the questions, the pressures, the state of our world.

“Years From Now,” starts the collection.  “Although I cannot see your face / As you flip these poems awhile/ Somewhere from some far-off place / I hear you laughing – and I smile.”

If the answer to the big question, “What is the meaning of life?” is to leave behind a legacy you can be proud of, Shel Silverstein’s legacy of laughter, dreaming and thinking certainly fit the bill.

“Yesees and Noees” really stuck in my mind, too.  “…So the Yesees all died of much too much / And the Noees all died of fright / But somehow I think the Thinkforyourselfees / All came out all right.”  What a straightforward way to point out the solution to surviving pressures.

As for the state of our world, we are often so afraid to be seen as different because differences get punished.  But in “Masks”, Shel Silverstein reveals to us, “She had blue skin / And so did he. He kept it hid / And so did she.  They searched for blue / Their whole life through / Then passed right by – And never knew.”

Just as The Giving Tree was considered both children’s and adult literature, Every Thing On It can be, too.

Thank you, Shel Silverstein.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned from a Shel Silverstein poem or book? – Kim

Kim is Store Manager at Cedar Rapids HPB in Marion, IA.

Staff Picks: Top Five Banned Children’s Storytime Books

Kids have no business reading this….at least that’s what some people think. To kick off our Banned Books Awareness Week, the team at our Mansfield, TX store hosted a story time made up entirely of books that have been banned or challenged in libraries across our great land. Wouldn’t you know it…parents actually brought their kids to listen in! According to our Mansfield bibliomaniacs, here were the top five favorite banned or challenged children’s story time books:

#5 Curious George, H.A. Rey

Challenged for several reasons, from George not being drawn anatomically correct, (note: he has no prehensile tail) to the story having racial undertones. Our Half Pint crew just finds him funny– nay, hilarious– and the little readers we know really seem to identify with him constantly getting into mischief!


#4 Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold

Cassie Lightfoot is a young girl who dreams of being free to go wherever she wants, and she is magically whisked away on a journey through history. Illustrated by intricate painted story quilt designs, this picture book has been challenged for containing stereotypical representations of the African American culture.

 #3 The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

This book is the ultimate lesson in give and take. Which is better? Who are givers and who are takers? Sometimes challenged for being “sexist,” the only challenge our little readers see is that it challenges us all to be better people.  

#2 The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

Challenged in California for “criminalizing the forestry industry,” this tongue-twisting tale of a feisty little figure who “speaks for the trees” has been a favorite of our story-timers for years. Nothing gets kids talking like a Q&A after reading The Lorax. Somehow kids get Dr. Suess’ message: Take your part, don’t be greedy, “…which everyone, everyone EVERYONE needs!”

And number one is . . . . .

Drum Roll . . . . . .


Because we are not in the business of thought-control (at least not this week) we’d like YOU to nominate a favorite kids book off the banned/challenged list. Let us know in the comments below. Take a moment this week to have your own Banned Books Week story time– you never know what kind of controversy you’ll stir up!

Let me know your favorite . . .


 “Libraries are places of inclusion rather than exclusion.”
American Library Association