Little known fact: Shel Silverstein penned Dr. Hook’s “Sylvia’s Mother”

I know of many parents who have a copy of Shel Silverstein stashed away somewhere. He was a prolific writer of books such as The Giving Tree, and tomes of books of wacky, insightful poetry such as “Where the sidewalk ends.”

I was looking up the man, and discovered that one of the anthems of the early seventies, “Sylvia’s Mother” was actually a vignette from his life. he knew the original Sylvia, and if you the words of the song resonate in your brain, you’ll know he was trying to get the ‘operator’ reminding him it would cost him “40 cents more” to stay on the line.

When was the last time you had an “operator” intervene between you and the person you were calling?

FootnoteThe Giving Tree has been ranked one of the top 100 books for children, beating several by Dr, Seuss, and even Lois Lowr (The Giver) and Roald Dahl’s books.

If children ‘published’ books, would there be a market?

Today, ‘to publish’ means something else entirely.  It used to be tied to the notion of a ‘publication’ – which often meant material that got edited, bound and distributed by certain entities.

So should children publish books? 

I want put this question to those of you professional communicators, and also in education:

  • Should the definition of children’s books also include children-to-children books?
  • Could book stores get into the business of encouraging children to become storytellers, designers and illustrators?

Sure, there is a good self-publishing model out there at places such as Blurb, Lulu, etc. But (a) It is hardly affordable for most children (b) The POD model presupposes the content is already ready to go to press.

  • Are there places (such as ‘Maker Spaces’) for kids to polish their craft, and go all the way to putting a book on a shelf?

Many will say that the market is not significant enough to give it serious thought. But is that good enough reason to not consider it?

I pose this question because of a suggestion raised by one of my 3rd grade classes today. They wanted to know if they could publish their work in a book form. I was shocked at the question. This after all, was from 9 and 10 year olds!

I have pat answers for questions like this. Such as: “It depends what kind of readers you are thinking about” – an opening to a discussion about eBooks, online publishing, Wikis and such.

But this is a serious question that should not be confined to school-made solutions. Any suggestions?