The Academy of American Poets started in 1996. It's held every and is celebrated with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets all over the world. I was not an avid reader as a child, but one thing I did love to read and write was poetry. And still do to this day.
One of my favorite children's book writers of poetry is Shel Silverstein. I remember reading so many of his books when I was a kid. Probably my favorite collection of his work is "Where the Sidewalk Ends", published in 1974. It opens with this great poem:
If you are a dreamer, come in,For someone who didn't really like to read as a child, Silverstein's words felt welcoming, comforting as if he was saying, "It's okay. You can trust me. You'll like my poems. You'll want to read more. I won't let you down."
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-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.
Who can forget these incredible works of word and art, too.
Out of all Silverstein's books, though, by far the one that caught my heart the most is "The Giving Tree." I tear up each time I read it. It's a masterpiece that you need to pick up every so often to be reminded how important it is to give to others and to evaluate your capacity to love.
So this April, I encourage you to take a look at Shel Silverstein's work. Browse his website where there are lots of resources for teachers and parents to share his poetry, specifically for National Poetry month and beyond. As for me, I'll be going to the library and checking out all of Silverstein's books, starting with a special edition of "Falling Up" that has a few never before released poems - like this one called "The Poet Tree"
Underneath the poet tree
Come and rest awhile with me
And watch the way the word web weaves
Between the shady story leaves.
The branches of the poet tree
Reach from the mountains to the sea.
So come and sit...and dream...and climb--
Just don't get hit by falling rhymes.
Thanks for the invite, Shel. I plan on reading your books with my son, hoping that he'll grow up to love you as much as I do.