100 Shel Silverstein Quotes That’ll Make You Think Twice

Browsing through this collection of the most famous and inspirational Shel Silverstein quotes, one could really learn a lot from his bold and creative way of imparting life lessons.

Sheldon Allan Silverstein was an American poet, writer, cartoonist, playwright, and songwriter.

Uncle Shelby, as he named himself in some of his works, created phenomenal cartoons, poems, songs, and children’s books.

His magnum opus, “The Giving Tree,” has been translated to over 30 different languages and sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

His other works were recognized and made popular by other musicians like Johnny Cash.

Be prepared to be amazed because you are about to witness a great work of art that will surely touch your heart. You will certainly learn and enjoy at the same time.

Start reading here.

And make sure to check out these Simone de Beauvoir quotes.

Best Shel Silverstein Quotes

1. “How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.”

2. “My skin is kind of, sort of, brownish, pinkish, yellowish, white. My eyes are grayish. blueish green, but I’m told they look orange in the night. My hair is reddish blondish brown, but it’s silver when it’s wet, and all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet.”

3. “All the woulda-coulda-shouldas layin’ in the sun, talkin’ ’bout the things they woulda-coulda-shoulda done. But all those woulda-coulda-shouldas all ran away, and hid from one little did.”

4. “There are no happy endings, endings are the saddest part. So just give me a happy middle and a very happy start.”

5. “Draw a crazy picture, write a nutty poem, sing a mumble-gumble song, whistle through your comb. Do a loony-goony dance ‘cross the kitchen floor. Put something silly in the world that ain’t been there before.”

6. “Tell me I’m clever, tell me I’m kind, tell me I’m talented, tell me I’m cute, tell me I’m sensitive, graceful and wise. Tell me I’m perfect, but tell me the truth.”

7. “Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.”

8. “Listen to mustn’ts, child, listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me. Anything can happen, child, anything can be.”

9. “There is a voice inside of you that whispers all day long, ‘I feel this is right for me, I know that this is wrong.’ No teacher, preacher, parent, friend or wise man can decide what’s right for you—just listen to the voice that speaks inside.”

10. “She had blue skin, and so did he. He kept it hid, and so did she. They searched for blue their whole life through, then passed right by and never knew.”

11. “Said the little boy, ‘Sometimes I drop my spoon.’ Said the little old man, ‘I do that too.’ The little boy whispered, ‘I wet my pants.’ ‘I do that too,’ laughed the little old man. Said the little boy, ‘I often cry.’ The old man nodded, ‘So do I.’ ‘But worst of all,’ said the boy, ‘it seems grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.’ And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand. ‘I know what you mean,’ said the little old man.”

12. “Nobody loves me, nobody cares. Nobody picks me peaches and pears. Nobody offers me candy and Cokes, nobody listens and laughs at me jokes. Nobody helps when I get into a fight, nobody does all my homework at night. Nobody misses me, nobody cries, nobody thinks I’m a wonderful guy. So, if you ask me who’s my best friend, in a whiz, I’ll stand up and tell you Nobody is! But yesterday night, I got quite a scare. I woke up and Nobody just wasn’t there! I called out and reached for Nobody’s hand, in the darkness where Nobody usually stands. Then I poked through the house, in each cranny and nook, but I found somebody each place that I looked. I searched till I’m tired. And now with the dawn, there’s no doubt about it—nobody’s gone!”

13. “If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, 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. Come in! Come in!”

14. “I will not play at tug o’ war, I’d rather play at hug o’ war—where everyone hugs instead of tugs, where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.”

Shel Silverstein Quotes That Will Make You Smile

15. “Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird, and catch the worm for your breakfast plate. If you’re a bird, be an early, early bird. But if you’re a worm, sleep late.”

16. “Sunday dinner isn’t sunny, easter feasts are just bad luck, when you see it from the viewpoint of a chicken or a duck. Oh, how I once loved tuna salad, pork and lobsters, lamb chops too, till I stopped and looked at dinner from the dinner’s point of view.”

17. “Teddy said it was a hat, so I put it on. Now, dad is saying, ‘Where the heck’s the toilet plunger gone?’”

18. “So what if nobody came? I’ll have all the ice cream and tea, and I’ll laugh with myself, and I’ll dance with myself, and I’ll sing, ‘Happy Birthday to me!’”

19. “We can’t hold hands, someone might see. Won’t you please hold toes with me?”

20. “Mrs. McTwitter, the baby-sitter, I think she’s a little bit crazy. She thinks a baby-sitter’s supposed to sit upon the baby.”

21. “Since my friend left me, I’ve got nothing to do but walk. I walk to forget. I walk, I escape, I get further. My friend will not come back, now I am a marathon man.”

22. “This boat that we just built is just fine. And don’t try to tell us it’s not, the sides and the back are divine. It’s the bottom, I guess, we forgot.”

23. “Now, I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my toys will break. So none of the other kids can use ’em. Amen.”

24. “I’d rather play tennis than go to the dentist. I’d rather play soccer than go to the doctor. I’d rather play Hurk than go to work. Hurk? Hurk? What’s Hurk? I don’t know, but it must be better than work.”

25. “I’m Reginald Clark, I’m afraid of the dark. So please do not close this book on me.”

26. “If I had a brontosaurus, I would name him Horace or Morris. But if suddenly one day he had a lot of little brontosauri, I would change his name to Laurie.”

27. “I made myself a snowball as perfect as can be. I thought I’d keep it as a pet, and let it sleep with me. I made it some pajamas and a pillow for it’s head. Then last night, it ran away, but first, it wet the bed.”

28. “The Yesees said yes to anything that anyone suggested. The Noees said no to everything, unless it was proven and tested. So the Yesees all died of much too much, and the Noees all died of fright. But somehow, I think the Think-for-yourselfees all came out alright.”

29. “I believe that if you don’t want to do anything, then sit there and don’t do it, but don’t expect people to hand you a corn beef sandwich and wash your socks for you.”

Noteworthy Shel Silverstein Quotes

30. “If you’re behind the times, they won’t notice you. If you’re right in tune with them, you’re no better than they are, so they won’t care much for you. Be just a little ahead of them.”

31. “Make it so good and so clear that it doesn’t need any further explanation.”

32. “Just ’cause somethin’ ain’t been done, don’t mean it can’t be did.”

33. “What you’ve got to say, you say.”

34. “If there is a book you want to read but isn’t written yet, write it.”

35. “Anything is possible. Anything can be.”

36. “If the track is tough, and the hill is rough, thinking you can just ain’t enough!”

37. “Talked my head off, worked my tail off, cried my eyes out, walked my feet off, sang my heat out—so you see, there’s really not much left of me.”

38. “You know, years ago when you were a kid, it was your dream to make ‘Who’s who,’ or something like that. But after a while, you realize, it doesn’t mean a damn thing. Everybody knows who you are, if you are worth knowing.”

39. “To me, freedom entitles you to do something, not to not do something.”

40. “When I am gone, what will you do? Who will write and draw for you? Someone smarter, someone new? Someone better—maybe you!”

41. “Don’t know where he’s going, but see where he’s been.”

42. “I can be somebody’s, and still be my own.”

43. “Sometimes, I get so depressed ’bout what I haven’t done.”

44. “You’d better get your laugh while you’re making your point, or you won’t be doing it very long.”

Shel Silverstein Quotes That Will Leave You Wondering

45. “When the light turns green, you go. When the light turns red, you stop. But what do you do when the light turns blue with orange and lavender spots?”

46. “I went to find the pot of gold that’s waiting where the rainbow ends. I searched, and searched, and searched, and searched, and then—there it was, deep in the grass, under an old and twisty bough. It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine, at last. What do I search for now?”

47. “Each time I see the Upside-Down Man standing in the water, I look at him and start to laugh, although I shouldn’t oughta. For maybe in another world, another time, another town, maybe he is right side up, and I am upside down.”

48. “Are you good with bad habits, or are you bad with good habits?”

49. “The child asks, ‘Why don’t I have this happiness thing you’re telling me about?’”

50. “Everything isn’t everything.”

51. “He wasted his wishes on wishing.”

52. “Would you like to hear the night I bravely fought the—no? Alright.”

53. “It’s amazing, the difference a bit of sky can make.”

54. “And he didn’t really know where he was going, but he did know he was going somewhere, because you really have to go somewhere, don’t you?”

55. “It’s all the same to the clam.”

56. “I didn’t do it, that’s a lie. I didn’t do it, no, not I. I didn’t do it, hear me cry. I didn’t do it, hope to die. I didn’t do it, I’m not that bad. But if I did, would you be mad?”

57. “Small as a peanut, big as a giant, we’re all the same size when we turn off the light. Rich as a sultan, poor as a mite, we’re all worth the same when we turn off the light. Red, black or orange, yellow or white, we all look the same when we turn off the light. So maybe the way to make everything right is for God to just reach out and turn off the light!”

58. “She drank from a bottle called ‘Drink me,’ and she grew so tall. She ate from a plate called ‘Taste me,’ and down, she shrank so small. And so she changed, while other folks never tried nothin’ at all.”

59. “People are always giving you credit for really wanting to say more than you said.”

Shel Silverstein Quotes About His Experiences as a Writer and Cartoonist

60. “I think if you’re a creative person, you should just go about your business, do your work, and not care about how it’s received. I never read reviews, because if you believe the good ones, you have to believe the bad ones, too.”

61. “If you want to find out what a writer or a cartoonist really feels, look at his work. That’s enough.”

62. “Stand-up comics reflect less of visual humor and more of a commentary.”

63. “I am writing these poems from inside a lion.”

64. “There was a lot about the military that I thought was pretty silly. But these cartoons weren’t meant to take a poke at anybody or anything, they were meant to make people laugh.”

Shel Silverstein Quotes About His Personal Life

65. “I couldn’t play ball, I couldn’t dance. Luckily, the girls didn’t want me. Not much I could do about that. So I started to draw and to write. By the time I got to where I was attracting girls, I was already into work, and it was more important to me.”

66. “Yes, I’m adopted. My folks were not blessed with me in the usual way. But they picked me, they chose me from all the rest, which is lots more than most kids can say.”

67. “I didn’t have a lot of friends. I just walked around a lot and made up stories in my head, then I’d go home and write them down. That’s how I got started.”

68. “When I was younger, I wasn’t making it, and I was mad at everybody who was.”

69. “I, myself, do not believe in explaining anything.”

70. “I’m free to leave, go wherever I please, do whatever I want—I believe everyone should live like that. Don’t be dependent on anyone else—man, woman, child, or dog.”

71. “I want to go everywhere, look at, and listen to everything. You can go crazy with some of the wonderful stuff there is in life.”

72. “Comfortable shoes and the freedom to leave are the two most important things in life.”

73. “I can write a poem in 10 minutes. I like writing songs—I can write songs in 5 or 10 minutes. My concentration seems very short.”

74. “Imagine—four years, you could have spent travelling around Europe, meeting people, or going to the Far East of Africa or India, meeting people, exchanging ideas, reading all you wanted to anyway, and instead I wasted it at Roosevelt.”

Shel Silverstein Quotes That Will Make Your Imagination Fly

75. “‘You don’t have to shoot me,’ says the young lion. ‘I will be your rug, and I will lie in front of your fireplace, and I won’t move a muscle, and you can sit on me and toast all the marshmallows you want. I love marshmallows.’”

76. “Have you been to The Land of Happy—where everyone’s happy all day, where they joke, and they sing of the happiest things, and everything’s jolly and gay? There’s no one unhappy in Happy, there’s laughter and smiles galore. I have been to The Land of Happy—what a bore!”

77. “Although I cannot see your face as you flip these poems awhile, somewhere from some far-off place, I hear you laughing.”

78. “Magic Sandra’s seen a leprechaun, Eddie touched a troll, Laurie danced with witches once, Charlie found some goblins gold, Donald heard a mermaid sing, Susy spied an elf, but all the magic I have known, I’ve had to make myself.”

79. “This bridge will only take you halfway there, to those mysterious lands you long to see—through gypsy camps, and swirling Arab fairs, and moonlit woods where unicorns run free. So come and walk awhile with me, and share the twisting trails and wondrous worlds I’ve known. But this bridge only takes you halfway there—the last few steps, you’ll have to take alone.”

80. “Many leaves, one tree.”

81. “And she loved a boy very, very much—even more than she loved herself.”

82. “The baby bat screamed out in fright, ‘Turn on the dark, I’m afraid of the light.’”

83. “My beard grows down to my toes, I never wears no clothes. I wraps my hair around my bare, and down the road, I goes.”

84. “Once, I spoke the language of the flowers. Once, I understand each word the caterpillar said. Once, I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings.”

85. “Ricky was ‘L’ but he’s home with the flu, Lizzie, our ‘O,’ had some homework to do, Mitchell, ‘E’ prob’ly got lost on the way, so I’m all of the love that could make it today.”

86. “‘Come, boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.’ And the boy did. And the tree was happy.”

87. “Rockabye baby, in the treetop. Don’t you know a treetop is no safe place to rock? And who put you up there, and your cradle too? Baby, I think someone down here has got it in for you!”

88. “‘I was hoping that perhaps I could roll with you.’ ‘You cannot roll with me,’ said the Big O, ‘but perhaps you can roll by yourself.’”

89. “We can’t find the cat. We don’t know where she’s at. Oh, where did she go? Does anyone know? Let’s ask this walking hat.”

More Shel Silverstein Quotes

90. “Underneath my outside face, there’s a face that none can see. A little less smiley, a little less sure, but a whole lot more like me.”

91. “I keep meeting all the right people at all the wrong times.”

92. “I know a way to stay friends forever—there’s really nothing to it. I tell you what to do, and you do it.”

93. “Never explain what you do—it speaks for itself. You only muddle it by talking about it.”

94. “He has the obligation to society that any human being has. I don’t think a satirist has any greater obligation to society than a bricklayer or anybody else.”

95. “Hey, we’re making music twice as good by playing what we’ve got!”

96. “If you’re nasty, I won’t fight. If you’re rough, well that’s just you. If you’re mean, that’s alright too. Whatever you are is all okay. I don’t like you anyway.”

97. “William, tell, William, tell. Take your arrow, grip it well. There’s the apple, aim for the middle. Oh well, you just missed by a little.”

98. “O Child, learn your ABC’s and memorize them well. And you shall learn to talk, and speak, and read, and write, and spell.”

99. “There is a place where the sidewalk ends.”

100. “I’ve found my missin’ piece. So grease my knees, and fleece my bees, I’ve found my missin’ piece!”

How Do You Interpret Some of the Lines in His Stories?

Shel Silverstein was born during the Great Depression which means that his early life was not easy. During his younger years, he really enjoyed drawing, but he is not particularly good at his studies. Later in his career, he received two Grammy Awards and was nominated in the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award.

His most popular book, “The Giving Tree”, which was written and illustrated by him, was described as “one of the most divisive books in children’s literature.” It’s plot is about the deteriorating relationship between a tree and a boy—as the boy got older, the relationship evolved to be one-sided, the tree giving everything it can to satisfy the boy’s needs. The story is being compared to the love of a mother or father to their child.

Through his unique, ingenious, and artistic way of conveying life lessons and facts, Shel Silverstein has touched a lot of lives. If we keep these pieces of inspiration in our hearts, it could lead to a better life.

What was your biggest takeaway from these quotes? Have you read some of his books? We’ll be happy to know, hit us up in the comments section below.

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

We take from each others’ hearts and courage, and it’s through our individual experiences that we learn how to rise above our challenges and pain. In so many ways, Quote Ambition is a platform that allows people from all over the world to gain the inspiration they need anytime, anywhere!

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