The Best of Shel Silverstein

Common Sense Media says

Surprise! For teens and older.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Songs with stories of a "freakers ball", revenge, plastic surgery, drug use.


One song features a boy who hunts his father.


Includes a "freak fest" where characters are described.


One profanity (b-word) and derogatory slang for homosexuals.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Includes euphemisms for marijuana and other drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Shel Silverstein has done a significant amount of work outside of his kid-oriented sphere, and this album includes previously recorded tracks with other artists, some containing mature material. For example, "Cover of the Rolling Stone" mentions taking "pills for thrills," and a lady named "Kocaine Kitty," while the track "Got Stoned and I Missed It" uses euphemisms for marijuana to describe situations the main character experiences as a result of his habit.

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What's the story?

If you're a parent, you probably know Shel Silverstein's absolute classic books like The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. However, you may not be familiar with an alternate Silverstein, who appeals more to Playboy audiences than playhouse ones. The 21-track BEST OF SHEL SILVERSTEIN reflects both versions equally. Once you get over the surprise of hearing your favorite children's writer sing about topics much more grown-up, you'll delightfully find that his songs sound like big-kid versions of his children's work; simply replace all the \"icky things\" with sex and drugs, put it over folk sounds and sweet harmonies, add classic Silverstein wit and humor, and you've got an album that's not just full of great music and poems, but hilarious too.

Is it any good?


Included in this album are some of Silverstein's previous recordings with great musicians like Johnny Cash, Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare, and Kris Kristofferson, offering wildly funny and musically engaging tracks. The album also includes 12 recordings of his most popular children's poems: "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout/Would Not Take the Garbage Out," "The Homework Machine," "The Generals," and more. If you like poems with a laugh, check out Silverstein's kid-friendly website,, which contains a full list of his works, music, a biography, and hands-on activities for children.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the messages the songs are trying to convey, often on topics for teens and older.

Music details

Artist:Shel Silverstein
Release date:August 2, 2005
Label:Sony Music
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No

This review of The Best of Shel Silverstein was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bypokeymom April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

I was shocked!

I bought this disc while searching for something to listen to while traveling with my children (ages 11 and 6). It was sold in the Children's section at both and and while I recognized a couple of the songs, assumed it was "clean versions" appropriate for small children. Wow! Was I wrong? While the disc may have some songs and poetry that I enjoyed hearing, I would definitely NOT SUGGEST FOR CHILDREN because of the sexual content and drug references in the lyrics!


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