Author: Shel Silverstein

Age: 2 – 8 Years Old

Category: Generosity, Selfishness

Why We Like It: We read this book when we were kids. It made us cry back then and, if we’re honest, we still get a little choked up now. This simple tale about a tree that gives everything to the boy it loves is a classic. It touches on some very real emotions. Silverstein leaves the book open to interpretation, possibly on purpose. Is complete self-sacrifice for the person you love good? Or is complete self-sacrifice incredibly sad? Maybe it’s a little bit of both, and that’s the beauty of this story.

It makes for a great discussion starter with your kids. The book teaches empathy, love, generosity, and altruism… but it also touches on greed, selfishness, and entitlement. Complex topics to be sure, but it’s done in a way that kids can relate to. Maybe the tree should have some more self respect and set boundaries, and maybe the boy should be more grateful for the tree’s many gifts. These are all things you can talk about with your kids as you read. The illustrations are particularly poignant, and further enhance the emotional message.

Plus, at the end of the day, isn’t this story a bit of a metaphor for parenting? You never stop loving or giving to your children.

Pick up a copy of Silverstein’s classic The Giving Tree now at Amazon.

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