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Poetry for Children
Poetry Break #14

Poem with solo lines

WHATIF
by Shel Silverstein

N Last night, while I lay thinking here,
N Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
N And pranced and partied all night long
N And sang their same old Whatif song:
1 Whatif I'm dumb in school?
2 Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
3 Whatif I get beat up?
4 Whatif there's poison in my cup?
5 Whatif I start to cry?
6 Whatif I get sick and die?
7 Whatif I flunk that test?
8 Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
9 Whatif nobody likes me?
10 Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
11 Whatif I don't grow taller?
12 Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
13 Whatif the fish won't bite?
14 Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
15 Whatif they start a war?
16 Whatif my parents get divorced?
17 Whatif the bus is late?
18 Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
19 Whatif I tear my pants?
20 Whatif I never learn to dance?
N Everything seems swell, and then
N The nighttime Whatifs strike again!

A Light in the Attic. HarperCollins, 1981

Introduction
Poetry can also capture the concerns and issues young people have about life. Consider this example by Shel Silverstein. Some of these "whatifs" are nonsense and others are quite serious worries that many children share.

Extension
If the kids are ready to volunteer for solo line reading, you take the narrator (or "N") part and invite them to volunteer for the other twenty numbered lines. Afterward, set up a "whatif" box for kids to offer their own whatif worries anonymously. Then create a new group "whatif" poem to perform aloud.