The Giving Tree By Shel Silverstein




I actually can’t believe we haven’t (until now) reviewed this absolute classic. The Giving Tree is such a beautiful book and when I recently stumbled across a copy in a classroom I was teaching in, I knew immediately we had to share it with you.


The Giving Tree is about the relationship between a boy and a tree. When the boy is young, he plays with the tree daily; he gathers her leaves for a crown and climbs her and swings from her branches. The boy and the tree have a wonderful relationship and both are extremely happy.


As the boy grows older, however, he doesn’t want to play with the tree as much. He no longer wants to climb and swing, he wants to make money and have a nice house instead. The tree misses him terribly.


In an effort to keep their relationship alive, the tree offers him her apples to sell and make money and then offers him her branches to build a house. The boy takes whatever is offered, until there is not much left of the tree.


In the end, the boy is an old man, who needs nothing more than a stump to sit on, and again, the tree obliges; once again happy that the two can be together.


Why I love it:

This story is so moving. Years ago, when I first read it, I think I took it a little on face value and saw it as a tale of friendship (which it is, to a certain extent), but now it has a different meaning for me. Reading it again, now as a parent, I couldn’t help but liken the tree to a parent, desperate not to lose the connection with their growing child; offering them assistance and support in any way possible, just to keep them close.

The prospect of my children growing up and no longer needing me every day, terrifies me and this book really hit a nerve! It’s a beautiful, sad, but heart-warming story and one that deserves a second look.

Themes to discuss with your child:

  • Friendship
  • Togetherness
  • Kindness
  • Give and take
  • Support
  • Listening
  • Needs and wants
  • Growing older
  • Change
  • Acceptance
  • Love

Questions to ask your child:

Before reading:
  • What do you think this book might be about?
  • Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
  • Is this a book you want to read? Why/why not?
  • From looking at the picture on the cover, what kind of relationship do you think the boy has with the tree?
  • Why do you think almost everything on the front cover, is green?
After reading:
  • Did you enjoy this story? Why/why not?
  • How did the tree feel when the boy was young?
  • How do you think the tree felt as the boy got older?
  • What did the tree do to try to keep the boy close?
  • Do you think you will change as you grow older?
  • How did this book make you feel? Why?
  • Do you think this book has a happy ending or a sad ending? Explain why you think this?

Join the newsletter

Like a little brilliance in your inbox?
Sign up here to receive a weekly update from us.

Powered by ConvertKit