September 25th marks what would be the 90th birthday of iconic author Shel Silverstein. Today, we remember the incredible legacy Shel Silverstein left behind him that is still influencing readers across the globe. Silverstein was known for his children’s books, songs, and cartoons. His books have been translated into over thirty languages, and he has been the recipient of many awards for his work. Most notably, he received two Grammy awards and nominations for both Golden Globe and Academy Awards.
Silverstein might not have initially lead the life expected of a leading children’s book author. He grew up in Chicago before going to the University of Illinois where he was expelled. He then chose to attend the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. However, he was drafted into the United States Army which caused him to serve in Japan and Korea.
During his time in the Army, his cartoons began to get published in the occasional paper. Once back in Chicago, his cartoonist career began to truly take off, and he became a cartoonist for Playboy.
Clearly, Silverstein didn’t begin writing children’s books. It was through the convincing of his friend, Tom Ungerer, that Silverstein eventually visited agent Ursula Nordstrom. From there, he began publishing books, such as his legendary The Giving Tree. However, that book was not his favorite, although he has admitted he thought it would be a hit. Reportedly, his favorite of his books is The Lion who Shot Back.
But Silverstein somehow managed to go beyond even just his successful art and writing career. He also wrote hit songs, mostly for other artists including Johnny Cash. Yet, he also post-humonously released an album Underwater Land that featured 17 songs for children. Further, Silverstein wrote and staged theater productions and wrote multiple pieces for film and television.
Truly, Silverstein was a man who went so much further than any one discipline or project. Today, of all days, we should take a moment and reconnect with the full array of Shel Silverstein’s work. With so much of it produced, there is sure to be so much more to be discovered.
Feature image via Poetry Foundation