‘Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.’ So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein. Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk…and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave. This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return. Ages 10+
I remember loving this book growing up. I’m sure my mother read it to me and explained how the tree is a wonderful example of selflessness, which I completely agree with! After reading it again as an adult, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. It had a more melancholy feel to it, as the tree just gave and gave until it had nothing more to give. I wished the boy in the story would come to his senses, realize what the tree was doing for him, and give something back in return. I felt a little frustrated by the story, but that’s why I think it’s a great book—it made me feel for the tree. When I read this with little ones, it will spark a great discussion about how the boy could have been better by recognizing what the tree gave up for him and trying to give back.
Shel Silverstein ‘s incomparable career as a bestselling children’s book author and illustrator began with Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back. He is also the creator of picture books including A Giraffe and a Half, Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?, The Missing Piece, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, and the perennial favorite The Giving Tree, as well as classic poetry collections such as Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, Every Thing On It, Don’t Bump the Glump!, and Runny Babbit.
How many copies of The Giving Tree have been sold?
What is The Giving Tree about?
There’s a lot of controversy in reviews for The Giving Tree. While it’s definitely a book about giving, as it’s title suggests, readers are torn about the book’s subject being selflessness or selfishness.
This New York Times Parenting article suggests reading the book with the overarching message that “giving doesn’t have to be a sad act of sacrifice — something you have to do at your own expense. It can be a joy — something you choose to do for the benefit of others.”
Did any popular media sources review The Giving Tree?
From Brightly, a resource for readers and a partner with Penguin Random House: “If you’re looking for a children’s book that teaches generosity or unselfishness, most people will point you right to The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein’s lovely story of a tree that will do anything for the boy it loves — and for good reason. This classic is always a good place to start.”
The Giving Tree has also been ranked #3 on Goodreads’ list of Best Children’s Books since 2013.
“If you ask parents to think of a children’s book about generosity, “The Giving Tree” is usually the first — and often the only — one they can name. But here’s the thing: It’s not really about generosity. It’s a book about self-sacrifice — and those are two very different things.
Giving doesn’t have to be a sad act of sacrifice — something you have to do at your own expense. It can be a joy — something you choose to do for the benefit of others.”
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