Charles Ghigna

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.

Charles Ghigna (1946- ), also known as "Father Charles GhignaCharles 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 B.A. in 1968 and an M.Ed. in 1970. In 1974, Ghigna became poet-in-residence and taught creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) in Birmingham. 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, in Birmingham. In 1989, Ghigna published his first book of poetry, Returning to Earth, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

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. His 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.

Author Charles Ghigna, known as "Father Goose," reads Charles Ghigna Reads to StudentsIn addition to his children's poetry books, Ghigna published Snickers (1993-1998), a newspaper featuring light verse. 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)

Additional Resources 

Ghigna, Charles. Charles Ghigna Papers. de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. The University of Southern Mississippi. 1965-2003.

Cynthia Quinn White
University of Montevallo

Published May 11, 2010
Last updated May 14, 2014