Known as “Father Goose,” poet Charles Ghigna (1946- ) is the author of more than 5,000 poems and has published more than 100 books for children and adults. He is best known for his work in the genre of children’s literature. His work focuses on the details of life, using concrete imagery to vividly convey personal scenarios—a technique that carries through into his children’s poetry. Ghigna’s work has appeared in such major outlets as Cricket, Highlights, The New Yorker, and Harper’s. Embraced by the general public, his work also has won critical acclaim, receiving honors such as the Helen Keller Literary Award and the Alabama Library Association Book Award, Juvenile Division.
Ghigna, Charles Charles Ghigna was born in Bayside, New York, on August 25, 1946, to Charles and Patricia Ghigna and took up writing at an early age. He attended Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton, Florida, earning a bachelor of arts in 1968 and a master’s of education in 1970. In 1974, during his first trip to Alabama, Ghigna wrote “The Alabama Wiregrassers.” The poem appeared in Harper’s Magazine in September of that year, the same month he received a two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to begin the poet-in-the-schools program in Alabama. Ghigna became poet-in-residence and taught creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) in Birmingham. He was provided room and board at Birmingham-Southern College and was a poet-in-residence there and taught creative writing. In 1976, while continuing at ASFA, Ghigna worked on the children’s television show Cabbages and Kings. In 1979, he also taught creative writing at Samford University, also in Birmingham. In 1989, Ghigna published his first book of poetry, Returning to Earth, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Charles Ghigna In 1992, Ghigna published his first books of children’s poetry, Good Dogs/Bad Dogs and Good Cats/Bad Cats. Ghigna left ASFA the following year, but he remained in Alabama and devoted his creative energy to children’s literature full time. Also in 1992, and likely linked with critical and popular success of his Good Dogs/Bad Dogs and Good Cats/Bad Cats books, Hyperion, a Disney subsidiary that publishes children’s books, signed Ghigna to a four-book contract. Since then, Ghigna has published numerous books of children’s and adult’s poetry. In 2023, he released The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry: 100 Favorite Poems to Read Aloud, a compendium of his favorite poems that represents his life’s work in children’s poetry.
Charles Ghigna Poetry Collection In addition to his children’s poetry books, Ghigna published “Snickers,” a syndicated feature of light verse for Tribune Media Services that appeared daily in newspapers throughout the United States from 1993 to 1998. The creators of ACT and SAT tests used his work as texts for their language-comprehension sections. Ghigna also served as poetry editor of The English Journal, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English. His many and popular works for children have earned Ghigna the nickname Father Goose. He currently lives and writes in a treehouse in Homewood, Jefferson County.
Selected Works by Charles Ghigna
Plastic Tears (1973)
Returning to Earth (1989)
Good Cats/Bad Cats (1992)
Good Dogs/Bad Dogs (1992)
Tickle Day: Poems from Father Goose (1994)
The Best of Snickers (1994)
The Day I Spent the Night in the Shelby County Jail (1995)
Love Poems (1999)
One Hundred Shoes: A Math Reader (2002)
The Alphabet Parade (2002)
A Fury of Motion: Poems for Boys (2003)
Animal Tracks: Wild Poems to be Read Aloud (2004)
Score! 50 Poems to Motivate and Inspire (2008)
Snow Wonder (2008)
Barn Storm (2010)
I See Fall (2011)
Recycling is Fun (2012)
The Alphabet Parade (2014)
A Carnival of Cats (2015)
Alabama: My Home Sweet Home (2018)
Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer (2019)
Once Upon Another Time (2020)
Little Hearts (2022)
Fetch, Cat. Fetch! (2022)
The Magic Box (2022)
The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry: 100 Favorite Poems to Read Aloud (2023)
Ghigna, Charles. Charles Ghigna Papers. de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection. The University of Southern Mississippi. 1965-2003.