Monday, November 19, 2007

The Giving Tree, Overview

The Basics:
Title: The Giving Tree
Author: Shel Silverstein
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN-10: 0060256656
ISBN-13: 978-0060256654
Recommended Reading Level: Ages 4-8

The story begins with a tree and boy who are best friends. The tree loves the boy, and the boy loves the tree. The tree gives the boy everything he needs from a vine to swing on to apples to shade to sit under. As the boy grows older, he visits the tree less and less, and when he does visit, he wants more and more. Because the tree loves him so much, it gives him everything he asks for until nothing is left but a stump. The boy leaves and returns many years later as an old man. The tree/stump tells him it has nothing left to give, and the boy/man says all he needs is a place to sit. The tree is happy again and gives him a place to rest.

Initial Impression:
I chose this book to review because it's been one of my favorites for many years, and I absolutely love Shel Silverstein. Until I heard from some of you and did a little research, I had no idea that there were so many strong opinions about this book. Some love it, some hate it. Some say the boy is greedy and selfish and that children readers learn a horrible lesson. Others say it's the story of unconditional love...the kind of love a parent has for a child. Then there are those who compare the tree to Christ and his self-sacrifice.

My opinion? It's a great book...yes, it may not be the happiest book in the world and children could feel sad and sorry for the tree when they read it. However, I'm of the thought that we can't shelter our kids from the real world and always read them tales of happy bunnies and frogs and princesses who live happily everafter. Of course no parent wants to see thier children hurt or sad. I dread the day when my daughter comes home sad because someone else made fun of her. I dread the day when she gets rejected by a boy or doesn't get picked for the lead role in a play or something else she has her heart set on. But you know what? I also know that it will happen. She will be disappointed. She won't always be happy, and there will be times when she will be sad. I already got a taste of this the other morning when I dropped her off at daycare, kissed her goodbye, and heard her screaming for me down the hall as I left the building.

Will I read the The Giving Tree to her when she gets older? Absolutely. It makes you think. It sparks questions. It's beautifully written and tells a touching story of love, friendship, and yes...the dreaded disappointment we've all experienced.

Of course, that's my opinion. I'd love to hear yours.

Check back tomorrow for some reading tips and learning activities.

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