Say the name “Shel Silverstein” aloud and adults and children alike think of clever, sometimes subversive, poems with comic line drawings and lots of laughs. You know that when you pick up a book by this writer and poet you’re in good hands. Find familiar and less familiar books on this list — and celebrate language, poetry, and an astute creator of books for children of all ages.

A Giraffe and a Half
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Laugh out loud things happen when one has a giraffe who has stretched to become a giraffe and a half. Absurdity and humor build as a boy adds more silly (but rhyming) things to the long-necked animal. Line illustrations build to bring the satisfying tale full circle.

A Light in the Attic
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Sly humor and tricky truths emerge from each rhyme in this genuinely humorous collection as each poem reminds children and adults of their behaviors and foibles. Black line drawings accompany each imaginative verse which begs to be shared aloud.

Don’t Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Meet the Pointy-Peaked Pavarius, a Quick-Disguising Ginnit, and other amazing imaginary critters in this poetic bestiary. Delight in the pages of Silverstein’s only collection illustrated in full color. Wordplay and humor are the hallmarks of this engaging collection.

Falling Up
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
As he did in his earlier collections, Silverstein presents the world with shrewd humor, a bit of rebellion, loads of lively language, and endless reader appeal. His signature line drawings add to the comic appeal of the classic poems presented in this collection.

Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
When lions are roused by the sound of guns, only one young lion (who readers come to know as Lafcadio) stays to dissuade the hunter. Rather than deterring the hunter, Lafcadio winds up eating him, becoming a crack shot, and entering the human world. Humor in wordplay and in line drawings creates contagious fun in this poignant tale of having ties to very different worlds.

Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Way down in the green woods/Where the animals all play/They do things and they say/ things in a different sort of way… They transpose initial consonants of words so they “bead a rook” instead of “read a book” and more. Line drawings and humorous wordplay make this collection one sure to cause lots of laughter!

The Giving Tree
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
This poignant parable begins, “Once there was a tree and she loved a little boy.” And because she loves him, she gives her all as both boy and tree grow older. When the boy grows into an old man, he sits on the stump of the tree; once again the tree is happy. Simple line drawings complement this timeless tale.

The Missing Piece
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Its gentle journey begins with melancholy: “It was missing a piece and it was not happy” but concludes with greater self-awareness. The main character is depicted as a Pac-Man-like creature who strives to find what it thinks it’s missing. Simple text and line drawings ideally complement each other in this many-leveled tale.

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
The creature with the missing piece (in the book of the same title) is back. Here it searches for a friend and meets the Big O, learning what it means to have a buddy that suits you well. Simple black line drawings and unadorned language make this a powerful tale that works on many levels.

Where the Sidewalk Ends
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Young readers (or listeners) are invited to share whimsical, imaginative, sometimes head-turning, always laugh-inducing poems in this classic collection.

Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?
By: Shel Silverstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
If anyone is looking for a new pet, they may want to consider a rhinoceros. In this amusing book, there’s one for sale “cheap.” Black line drawings with an occasional splash of color and a straightforward text reveal the unique strengths of an unlikely friendship with characteristic Silverstein flair.

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