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The Giving Tree

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  535,962 ratings  ·  11,672 reviews
"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 tr
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published October 7th 1964 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1964)
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Hannah This story speaks strongly of love. Not a romantic love, but agape love. Agape is Greek for 'unconditional love.' That is what I believe is shown by…moreThis story speaks strongly of love. Not a romantic love, but agape love. Agape is Greek for 'unconditional love.' That is what I believe is shown by the tree to the boy. He keeps asking for all of this stuff, and she gives it to him as best as she can, because all she wants is him to be happy. No matter what he wanted, she did her best to give it to him. Her apples, her branches, her trunk, then finally her stump. Seeing him happy made her happy. This might not fully answer your question but I hope it helps, at least slightly.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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Okay, this some motherfuckin' fucked-up shit right here. The Giving Tree is the straight-up wack story of how this selfish little ass-faced prick kicks it with this full-on saintly tree. Ever'thin' fine for a while, y'all, with the lil' prick all gettin' up in there an' sayin' to the tree, "Yeah, you know you mah bitch," but then all of a sudden, this jumped-up prick go through puberty, get his chia on or some such shit, and so he
Dec 04, 2013 Nathan rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Psychologists?
Shelves: young-folks
I know that many people have a sentimental love for this book, and I respect that -- you can't rationalize emotional connection. And generally, I like this author. But with this book, since it inspired no real emotional response in me, I am left with only the rational perspective, which in me was this:

This book troubles me deeply, because it enshrines self-destructive and self-pitying martyrdom as the paragon of love for others. And I think there is already far too much of this in our society.

I recently read this book to my little boy.

It's not the first time I've read it. It's probably not even the tenth time. But it's the first time I've read the book in a decade, and given the fact that my memory is like a cheese grater, I like to think I got a pretty fresh experience.

The result is this: I honestly don't know how I feel about this book.

Even if you haven't read the story, you probably know the gist of it. A tree loves a young boy and gives away pieces of itself to the boy to make
Sava Hecht
Co-dependent tree needs to set some fucking boundaries.
Apr 28, 2007 Mer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: enviornmentalists, nurturers, parents and children who want to discuss empathy and reciprocity
Scrolling down, it seems several reviewers resent this book's apparently heavy-handed message about selfishness/selflessness. I can totally understand why they find it upsetting or sappy. Overbearing, even. But I don't agree.

Some fascinating theories have been put forth about The Giving Tree. It's deceptively simple on its surface, yes. But if this were truly just some hard and fast hippie dippy morality tale, would its two main characters (living natural tree, growing human boy) and their relat
Skylar Burris
I was drawn to this book again and again as a child, and I discovered that my three-year-old daughter also wanted me to read it to her repeatedly. The book has given rise to numerous interpretations, and I myself have viewed it differently over time. Some people have a negative, visceral reaction to the book because they believe they are required to see it as a positive and uplifting tale of giving, something they cannot manage to do.

These days, we are accustomed to sanitized, upbeat children's
Nov 26, 2007 Benjermin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all human beings
Yes, the boy is a selfish bastard, who doesn't deserve the love and generosity he gets time and again. Anyone who read this book as a child is well aware of this fact.

Nonetheless, I'm shocked to see how many disliked it. My only thought is that many readers allow their hatred for the boy to be confused with hatred for the book. Does the book condone the boy's behavior, or simply seek to tell a narrative? Does the quality of a book suffer when the moral quality of its characters flags?

It is the j
So it is Christmas time, and my wife likes to have all of us—my wife and I, and our three years old twins—do a different event each night during Advent as a family. I like this practice; it is little things like this that keep our family strong. Tonight’s event was reading Christmas themed books.

We decided to read THE GIVING TREE as well as three other Christmas books. Had I foreseen what was about to transpire I would have omitted THE GIVING TREE from my selection.

Allow me to replay said event:
Nilesh Kashyap
Dec 09, 2012 Nilesh Kashyap rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Trees, that can read
Shelves: short-story
I try to steal books written for children, since I am no giving tree and I am not paying for what my child reads. But this book, each time I read this (at the bookshop itself), I thrust it back to the place from where I took it, angrily, if I may add. This book does not deserve to be stolen.

What makes me angry:
Each time I read this story, all I want to do is to insert my hand in bookcover, catch that falling fruit and saw the tree and take it home and make bat for my child a foot that my bed is
Horrific relationship between a selfish unappreciative child and an enabling self-sacrificing mother who has no purpose in life other than to give herself away. I keep expecting a missing page to show up where he pisses all over the tree stump at the end.

I think this is offensive and despicable.

It is a horrible lesson for children. I'd rather see more literature that honors and respects the sacrifices that parents make, rather than this book's actual focus: demonstrating the expectations that th
Aug 29, 2007 Merrin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Reading the other reviews on this book, I'm really surprised that there's such a level of hatred for this book. But then I thought everyone else in the world loved my fourth grade teacher too. We have to grow up sometime.

I can't imagine not loving this book. I can imagine berating the attitude of the boy, of the tree, but I can't imagine not coming away from this book with a deeper understanding of human nature, of reciprocity, of a parent's love for a child and the nature of servanthood.

My 5-year-old daughter had this read to her in preschool and burst into uncontrollable sobs at the end. "It's not fair! The tree is DEAD and the little boy was so mean to it!"

Exactly, honey. This book reeks of the patriarchy. Keep it away from your kids--especially your daughters.
The book is impossible to wrap my mind around. Part of me wishes it ended thusly: the tree suggests the boy chop her down to make a boat, he takes her advice, and the tree falls on him, killing them both. The moral being a quote I've heard attributed to Bill Cosby: If you spend your whole life trying to make other people happy, YOU'LL never be happy. The boy is punished for all but raping the one who cares more for him than anyone in the world, and the tree pays the ultimate price for a lifetime ...more
Mar 14, 2009 David added it
Sorry, Mr Silverstein. This kind of tripe is inexcusable. And exposing children to it? I'm no child psychologist, but what would be the point? I'd hazard a guess that Bernie Madoff read this book, and look how he turned out. In fact there's a whole generation of bwankers who took it as their bible. Thanks a bunch, Shelly boy.

My real reaction to this piece of morally ambiguous reprehensible mawkishness is best expressed by the kind of interpretative dance that was Molly Shannon's forte (one sylla
Oct 07, 2007 Laura rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not terribly bright hippies
Shelves: children
Easily the most vile children's book ever written, for reasons eloquently stated by about a zillion other posters here. I remember my grandmother, whom I disliked (yeah, some kids don't like their grandparents, it's true) used to push this book on me as terribly DEEP and BEAUTIFUL and something I should really THINK ABOUT. And you wonder why I didn't like my grandmother? (My mother thought it was a piece of shit, too.) Anyway, it's a vomitous book, always has been, and I'm glad there are other p ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Kiki rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Giving trees
Recommended to Kiki by: A giving tree
I'm baffled by The Giving Tree. Completely baffled.

When people talk about it, they never tell you just how twisted it really is. There's this vague whiff of patriarchy surrounding it, as well as the running theme of "parents aren't really people. Use them whenever you feel like it. They haven't got anything better to do than serve your whims and desires anyway".

I get it, I do. When you have small children, they depend on you for pretty much everything, and you have to give, give, give. But if th
K.D. Absolutely
Not sure what's the fuss about my friends either really liking or really hating this book. I find this just good. Good message. Good illustration. Good easy read. Nothing spectacular to go crazy about. Nothing sad to really cry a bucket of tears.

The Giving Tree is a poignant story of friendship between the selfless apple tree and a boy. They used to enjoy each others' company when the boy was still little but when he grew up, his priorities changed and he had other needs. The tree tried to help
My wife and I had a debate about this book:

VONNIE: I’m not sure at what age a person discovers the joy of giving. Maybe, for me, it was that first Christmas when I had saved up enough of my allowance to actually buy something for my parents. I remember the anticipation of watching them unwrap the gift and then the big smiles that spread across their faces as they said “Vonnie, you shouldn’t have.” I think The Giving Tree is really a story about parenthood, and the lengths to which moms and dads
I have always loved this book, so I was surprised at how many reviewers hated it. As a child I wondered how the tree could give so much. Now that I am older, I know that parents/caregivers do give that much to their children/charges (if metaphorically). So are all parents saps? Certainly they do not literally give house and home, but the sacrifices we make for the ones we love have no quantifiable limit. This book isn't supposed to teach children the value of sharing so much as it shows that som ...more
Wendy Darling
"I am sorry," sighed the tree. I wish that I could give you something...but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry...."
"I don't need very much now," said the boy,
"Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired."
"Well," said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could,
"Well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest."
And the boy did.

And the tree was happy.
Jan Bednarczuk
Sep 03, 2007 Jan Bednarczuk rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: childrens
I can't stand this book. Someone gave it to my children as a gift, and I'm very close to hiding it or giving it away so that I don't have to read it to them at bedtime anymore. The selfish, uncaring boy who takes and takes and takes from the tree until the tree literally has nothing more to give, just makes me want to reach through the pages and throttle him. What's the message here? Is it "When someone loves you, it's okay to just take advantage of them endlessly because they will always be the ...more
UniquelyMoi ~ 1-Click RockChick

Simply one of the best books ever written. It's a story about growing up, life, love, and pulling your head out of your butt long enough to appreciate and respect what you already have, before it's too late.

Though I might revise this review when I'm feeling less cynical, it truly is one of the greatest books of all time, and should be required reading for, or read to, all kindergarten bound children, then again when heading to high school and yet again before marriage. It's a story about selfle
Duchess Nicole

Good grief! These kids books are slaying me. This was another recommendation from a fellow Goodreads friend, and of course, one that my girls and I loved. I read until I started crying and then made my ten year old finish. It's a story that really parallels how a parent feels about their we sacrifice everything we have, everything we are just to see a smile on our kids' faces. There is nothing you won't do for your babies. And while that sentiment might go right over the kids' heads,
Oct 01, 2008 Amy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who want to raise rotten spoiled brats and their children.
Recommended to Amy by: Everyone on earth.
This is my worst favorite children's book EVER. I normally love Shel Silverstein.

However, this boy is just a complete and utter brat, and uses up everything the tree has to give, and the tree is completely codependent.

The tree should have rained apples on this boy's head and spanked him with her branches until he learned some respect.

This is a story of a very bad boy.
I don't think I have ever read a book that has pissed me off more then the giving tree.

I read this book when I was 6 maybe 7 and I have yet to forgive that little punk of a kid on the cover in his oh so innocent red overalls! I can still vividly remember my outrage upon first reading this book over how the kid just kept taking and taking from the poor, kind, senseless tree. That little money grubbing, self involved, brat, took everything until all that was left of his dear friend the tree was a
Had bought this cos I had heard a good deal about it and thought it would make a lovely prezzie for one of my great nephews and took a quick look in the book shop whilst Christmas Shopping yesterday and thought how lovely the drawings were and so wholeheartedly judged a book by its cover or at least its inside illustrations. There is a lovely sense of the movement of the tree and the pages genuinely seem to express the ebb and flow of the tree's life but the words, good grief, the words. This is ...more
1.0 stars. I remember loving this as a child when I was a spoiled, selfish immature little boy. As I have aged and found myself more and more often in the position of the used, put upon and taken for granted tree, I have decided that this book's central message is a horrible, infected pile of maggot covered DUNG!!!
it's not so much that i hate this story, i'm not aware of what shel silverstein's intentions were when writing it, but i find it disgusting that people think this is a story of love and relationships and selflessness. the boy takes and takes and takes from the tree until he can take no more, and then when he can literally take no more from the tree, he sits on her like a chair. it's ridiculous that people think this story is beautiful! please! read more books!
Tadiana ♕Part-Time Dictator♕
Here's the book I really want to read:

Rebecca Grace
Jan 30, 2008 Rebecca Grace rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NOT children!
Recommended to Rebecca Grace by: My mother
Shelves: children-s-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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The Giving Tree 4 12 Mar 25, 2015 01:09PM  
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Shel Silverstein was the author-artist of many beloved books of prose and poetry. He was a cartoonist, playwright, poet, performer, recording artist, and Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated songwriter.
More about Shel Silverstein...
Where the Sidewalk Ends: The Poems and Drawings of Shel Silverstein A Light in the Attic Falling Up The Missing Piece Every Thing on It

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“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.” 1886 likes
“... and she loved a boy very, very much-- even more than she loved herself.” 314 likes
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