My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein when I was twelve-years old, but then I read it again in college as part of a course called “Reading in the Elementary School.” My opinion didn’t necessarily change between the two reads, but my eyes were opened a little wider. I never realized it was such a controversial book, nor that the author was sometimes considered not ideal for children, despite writing picture books for them.
The basic gist of the book revolves around friendship/love and abusing/using someone for what they can offer versus just enjoying the time with them. At first glance, it’s a beautiful story about a little boy who loves his tree so very much… playing, swinging, climbing… But as he grows older, he no longer wants those things because he needs the very basic things in life we all need: food, shelter, warmth, water, etc. And he asks the tree for more and more until she is left a small and lonely tree stump. She’s given away her apples and branches, been left alone for years at a time…
For young children, it’s a lesson in how not to be selfish. How to learn the concept of give and take. How to be a friend and not abuse that relationship. Many argue it’s a dark tale about a boy who never really learns his lesson, even in the end when goes back one final time to ask for one more thing — a place to sit before he dies.
Yes, that’s an over-exaggeration of the story, but depending on how/when you read the book, your perception of it could change. I think it comes down to Silverstein choosing not to “sugar-coat” the story… and show everything is all lovey-dovey in the end. He’s essentially saying “People will hurt you. Be careful.” And that is a lesson to teach children.
I’m not a parent, and I didn’t end up becoming a teacher; however, I am a firm believer in free speech and not keeping books away from people. Rather than banning a book, determine the age it should be read. There’s nothing wrong with reading this book at a young age, as long as you’re talking about it with a child. Ask them what they learned. Ensure they see both sides of the story. But don’t let them do it all on their own so they take the wrong message from the picture or the words.
Yes, the boy was an a$$. True, the tree needed to learn earlier when to say “no.” But we all want to feel loved. The book covers so many lessons in life, it’s hard to keep track. For me, in the end, it’s a solid book worth sharing with your kids. Perhaps not in school, as it is a lesson between parent / child / siblings — at home — as a family. All in all, I’m glad I read it a few times, and I hope everyone gives it a chance to think thru everything it’s trying to say.
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.