Shel Silverstein

1930 to 1999

About Shel

Shel Silverstein’s real name is Sheldon Allan Silverstein. He was born in Chicago on September 25, 1930. He died in Key West on May 10, 1999. He wrote ‘A light in the attic’, ‘where the sidewalk ends’ and ‘the giving tree’. He was also a song-writer.

A poem by Shel

“Ah, the baby bat screamed in fright,

Turn on the dark; I’m afraid of the light”

More than just a children's writer.


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!

Read some of Shel's poems.