Shel Silverstein, like Dr. Seuss, Disney, and many others, formed an integral part of my formative years. I grew up reading his poems in school and I loved how easy they were to read aloud. Years later, I found copies of Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up on sale in the local bookshop, snatched them up, and fell in love all over again.
Like with many children’s books, reading them as an adult gives you a whole new perspective on them and on yourself. It makes you understand the importance of reading and media on children. Shel Silverstein appealed to the imaginative, adventurous spirit in a child, the silliness and love for exploration. Hidden and tucked away between those are little messages that encourage kids to be kind, to believe in themselves, to persevere and remain constantly curious in a world that would seek to normalize them. As a child, they are a lesson. As an adult, they are a reminder.
This poem, Invitation, is the first one in his collection, Where the Sidewalk Ends.