Study Guide

Where the Sidewalk Ends Youth

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Though anyone with an imagination could probably find the way to the place where the sidewalk ends on his own, great stress is placed on following the marks made by children. It's children who spend more time than anyone else on the sidewalk, riding bikes or playing hopscotch. It's children who dream up things like moon-birds, and don't think it's strange at all for the wind to smell like peppermint. So it's children who discover the way to the place where the sidewalk ends and the imagination begins. In "Where the Sidewalk Ends," youth is the key to everything.

Questions About Youth

  1. What exactly does a sidewalk have to do with youth? Do children have a special connection to the sidewalk?
  2. What meaning do you take away from line 15 of this poem: "For the children, they mark, and the children, they know"?
  3. What do you think is the ideal age for a reader of this poem? Why? 
  4. Does this poem remind you of your childhood at all? How so?

Chew on This

This poem urges its readers to return to the creativity and innocence of their youth.

This poem is best when read by an audience of adults, not children, as would be expected, because adults need to be reminded of the value of imagination.

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