September 8 – Happy Birthday, Jack Prelutsky

Posted on September 8, 2013
...and International Literacy Day!

This combination of events cannot be a coincidence, can it? Obviously, we want to make sure people can read SO THAT they can read the fun and funny poems written by Jack Prelutsky!

Actually, International Literacy Day is a serious holiday dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of teaching reading, writing, and other literacies around the world, to kids and adults, in order to help people gain autonomy – which means the ability to take care of themselves, to learn what they need to know, self-empowerment, independence.

According to UNESCO, this year's theme for the day is “Literacies of the 21st Century.”

Now for fun and funny poems!

If you check out Jack Prelutsky's website, you will hear squashy, splatty sounds, you will see crazy bright pictures, and you can read poems such as “Ballad of a Boneless Chicken” and “It's Raining Pigs and Noodles.” If you want to experience my personal favorite, “Bleezer's Ice Cream,” you have to click “About Jack,” “Stop Juggling,” “Jack's Music,” and “Play.” 

(Wouldn't you love to try Chocolate Chop Suey Cluster ice cream? And how about Tuna Taco Baked Potato ice cream? Yum!) 

Jack Prelutsky was born in Brooklyn, New York, on this date in 1940. He seemed unlikely to succeed as an author. He claims he was a skinny kid with a big mouth, which was a bad combination, and he was quite poor. He hated school, and he particularly hated poetry. He finally got happy when he was able to go to The High School of Music and Art, where he trained his singing voice and performed in musicals. Still, he went on to flunk English classes in college several times before dropping out of college.

Prelutsky worked odd jobs but sang in coffeehouses, where he met famed musician Bob Dylan. The two became friends. (Prelutsky apparently met him when Dylan was becoming known but wasn't yet huge.)

Prelutsky loved drawing imaginary animals. A friend of his encouraged him to send his creative artwork to a children's at age 24 Prelutsky worked hard on some drawings. After six months he was finally ready to send his beloved pictures off to a publisher. But Prelutsky decided at the last minute to send some accompanying poems. He quickly thought up some rhymes, sent out the artwork, and crossed his fingers, hoping to hear back.

He heard back! And it was a “yes”! People wanted to publish his work!

But it wasn't the pictures that Prelutsky had poured time and effort on that the publishers wanted. It was those last-minute poems!

The rest, as they say, is history. Jack Prelutsky has written more than 50 poetry collections. And he makes music to accompany some of his poems, performs for kids by reading aloud and sometimes singing his poems, sometimes while he plays guitar. (Years ago, my kids and I got to see him perform. Loved it!)

Also on this date:

Plan Ahead!

And here are my Pinterest pages on October holidaysOctober birthdays, and historical anniversaries in October.

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