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The Giving Tree

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64 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1964

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About the author

Shel Silverstein

169 books9,523 followers
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.

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5 stars
665,077 (62%)
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233,846 (21%)
3 stars
110,024 (10%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 21,150 reviews
Profile Image for David.
161 reviews1,452 followers
August 11, 2011

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's off screwin' the skank-ass bitches on the block all damn day and can't spare one motherfuckin' minute for this poor old tree who waitin' for him and lookin' all motherfuckin' sad an' droopy an' shit. So this little punk-ass bitch come up on the tree -- this is a motherfuckin' tree, hear? -- and ask her ['cuz she a sexy-ass lady-tree] fo' some g's. Well, the tree is all, like, "I ain't got no cash, bitch. What part o' me say ATM on it? Mmm-hmmm. I thought so..." And she shoulda held up there, but -- no -- this tree gets all fuckin' benevolent and be, like, "Well, I got mad apples you can go hustle on the streets." So this ass-faced prick just, like, boosts all these goddamn apples an' leaves this tree with, like, its weave all out an' shit. So next, after workin' the streets wit his crew, little bitch boy come back, lookin' all older an' jacked-up, and ask the motherfuckin' tree for a goddamn crib. So the tree like, "Hol' up. Do you even fuckin' see Coldwell Banker all up an' down in here? I think not." But then, being all kindly an' shit, the tree is, like, "But I got mad branches..." And what? She motherfuckin' takes it up back again fo' this fool. Later, another goddamn time, punk-ass bitch come back, lookin' all old an' saggy and wack now, and he like, "Bitch, what you got fo' me now?" "Awww, hell naw," tree says, but then she start gettin' all soft an' shit again an' say, "Why don' you cut down my trunk or some such shit and go 'head and whittle a pimped-out yacht, full-on Hamptons-style?" He, like, "Yeah, I thought so, bitch." And then -- guess the fuck what? -- little shriveled-up, played-out mack come on back wit his ass all hemorrhoided-up an' shit. He look straight-up nasty and old. Tree is, like, "I know you ain't come t'ask me. All's I got is a motherfuckin' stump, you ass-faced motherfucker. How you gon' come back at me like that?" This punk-ass bitch is all drooling and jacked-up and just wanna sit the hell down. What do the motherfuckin' tree do? She say, "Hell no! You motherfuckin' fucked-up fucker, get yo' motherfuckin' ass face out o' here fo' I cut you up good: give you some stank-ass mad tree fungus, motherfucker!" The motherfuckin' end, motherfuckers.

Okay, so that's not really the way The Giving Tree ends, but maybe it's the way it should. Some time ago, my ex-girlfriend and, afterward, long-time co-dependent friend gave me The Giving Tree as part of my birthday gift. I loved it, but I hated it, too, because I felt so bad for the tree who is endlessly shat upon by this worthless "Boy"--as he is always known, regardless of age; I longed to console the tree and, maybe a little, to condemn this book as yet another emotionally-scarring "children's" entertainment in the manner of Old Yeller. Don't give me any shit about learning valuable lessons. The only lesson I learned was that human beings are nothing but steaming piles of corn-freckled feces, and that I wanted to found a not-for-profit shelter for unloved trees and rabid dogs and any other nonhuman thing, living or not, which was either unwanted or despised.

Having said all this -- and although I don't approve of the treatment of the giving tree -- this book is very moving and very delicate. The delicacy is somewhat counteracted when the reader turns over the book and sees the author photograph of a thoroughly evil-looking Shel Silverstein. He looks like the sort of person who would burn down whole forests of rare giving trees just for kicks. Picture Othello just before he strangles Desdemona.

If you -- and, yes, I'm talking to you personally -- are not moved by the plight of the tree after reading this book, then perhaps it's time to go an' check yo'self: are you the givin' tree or are you the motherfuckin' takin' tree? Or are you the sneak-out-in-the-middle-of-the-night-an'-steal-all-my-shit tree?
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 90 books232k followers
July 8, 2017
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 the boy happy.

On one hand, this story can be taken as an open, honest exhortation toward selfless Agape-style love. Love which asks nothing. Love which gives everything.

On the other hand, this story can be read as a horrifying condemnation of dysfunctional unrequited co-dependance.

After reading the book, I honestly don't know which it is.

On one hand, taking this book at face value is probably a fool's game. Silverstein was a twisted sarcastic bastard. He wrote lyrics for Dr. Hook. (Most notably "Freaking at the Freaker's Ball.") And back in my misspent youth, I discovered a poem of his in one of my Dad's Playboys. It was called "The Great Pot Smoke-Off."

My point is, dude was part of the counterculture. He was full of mocking and meta. And as such, it seems odd that he would write something that seems like an obvious endorsement of Christ-like selflessness... and then that was it.

But on the other hand, when Silverstein was having fun with you, he usually didn't pussyfoot around. One of his earliest publications was "Uncle Shelby's ABZ book." Which *looks* like a kid's book, but is clearly not:

Here's a piece from the page on Potty Training:

"See the potty
The potty is deep
The potty has water in the bottom.

"Maybe someone will fall into the potty and drown.

"Don't worry. As long as you keep wetting your pants, you will never drown in the potty."

Not a lot of ambiguity here. His tongue is pretty clearly in his cheek.

But when I read through The Giving Tree, I don't see the author winking at me from behind the scenes. The story *seems* to be straightforward.

But here's the thing, even if the story *is* straightforward, I don't know how I feel about it. Is the boy selfish in the story? Absolutely. He's a little shit. Yet he doesn't get one bit of comeuppance. We kinda want him to, but that's not what happens. The boy doesn't seem to learn a lesson. And neither does the tree.

That seems to imply there is no lesson to be learned here.

Let's be clear. The tree is *happy* at the end of the book. There's no ambiguity about that. It's entirely possible that the tree has acted in its own best interest. It's entirely possible that the tree, if you'll forgive the expression, is acting according to the Lethani.

Even after thinking it over for a couple days, still I don't know how I feel about it. That's a rarity for me.

For that reason, I'm giving this five stars. If you write a book that leaves me asking questions. If you write a book that people can have legitimate disagreements about. If you write a book that people can still wrangle over after fifty years… that's pretty clearly a five-star book.
Profile Image for Nathan.
51 reviews43 followers
December 4, 2013
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. This book seems to say that if you really love someone else, you will damage yourself, cripple yourself, tear down your boundaries, destroy yourself for them. And further, it implies that those who are loved must by nature use and devour those who love them. An incredibly unhealthy model for love and relationships, especially for a child's book.

I am a parent of two, and though many parents have offered up this book as representative of the true nature of parental love, I cannot agree. If I were to raise my children this way, I feel I would only be teaching them to take selfishly from those who love them, to use people up and always expect more -- and on the flip side, I would be teaching them that if they love someone then they have to give of themselves until it hurts, have to live without boundaries of any kind.

Instead of raising my kids this way, I feel it's important to teach them to respect those who love them and care for them, to not take from others so much that it damages; I feel it's important to teach them that even in love we all must maintain our boundaries, our integrity. I feel it's important that my kids, and all kids really, understand that real, healthy love does not demand destruction or diminishment of anyone involved in it, that in fact real and healthy love ultimately heals and builds up those who participate in it.

I suppose that this book may have been intended as an anti-lesson, an example of how NOT to behave -- but if so, then it was not made clear that this was the case, because most people who read this book seem to take it as an ideal example of love.

Certainly it's possible to not take it so seriously; but when the underlying message and philosophy is so concentrated and heavy-handed, it's hard to avoid tasting it in every passage.

It reminds me of that other beloved childhood book about love, where the young boy's mother is so obsessive about cuddling him and tucking him in at night that even as he gets older and older, she follows him around, sneaks into his college dorm, sneaks into his home as an adult, takes him from his bed with his wife still sleeping and reassures him (herself?) that he'll "always be my baby". *shudder*

Overall: Sweet, but to the point of being cloying, and a disturbing message. =/
Profile Image for Sava Hecht.
41 reviews39 followers
November 28, 2007
Co-dependent tree needs to set some fucking boundaries.
Profile Image for Mer.
33 reviews942 followers
April 28, 2007
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 relationship have weathered such extensive interpretation over the years?

Professor Timothy Jackson from Stanford University (found on Wiki):

Is this a sad tale? Well, it is sad in the same way that life is sad. We are all needy, and, if we are lucky and any good, we grow old using others and getting used up... Our finitude is not something to be regretted or despised, however; it is what makes giving (and receiving) possible. The more you blame the boy, the more you have to fault human existence. The more you blame the tree, the more you have to fault the very idea of parenting. Should the tree's giving be contingent on the boy's gratitude? If it were, if fathers and mothers waited on reciprocity before caring for their young, then we would all be doomed.

An admirable assessment from a theologian... although as a wee grub, my perception was different. My own folks, secular humanist scientists who taught me a "recycle, reduce, reuse" mantra at around age four, introduced me to The Giving Tree around the same time we started reading The Lorax. (Another seminal doozy!) Perhaps due to their influence on my early development, I came away from both books with a lot of very heavy, persistent questions concerning humanity's careless attitude towards ye olde Mother Earth.

Without question, we're a species that generally takes and takes from the environment, thanklessly and thoughtlessly. Sadly this seems to be a trend that will continue until both we and the earth's resources are completely exhausted. (That is, unless we can all somehow convince ourselves AND our kids to turn it around.)

Ever notice that throughout the course of the tale, the little boy just "wants" things from the tree? Only at the very end of his life does he actually "need" something from her... a place to rest for a moment, to be at peace.

Anyhoo. Aspects of human behavior introduced to me in this book continue to flummox and obsess me in adulthood. Rereading it now only reinforces my lifelong desire to give something back to our weary but still beautiful mother earth, who seems to have no choice but to submit to our endless taking.

Silverstein fable is empathetic and open-ended. At its core, it reflects humanity's short-sighted, often lifelong inability to distinguish want from need, but it does not damn us for it.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
402 reviews3,518 followers
March 10, 2023
Should Be Called The Codependent Tree

There is a boy and a tree. The boy constantly asks the tree for things. Even as the boy grows old, he never stops asking the tree for assistance. He never does anything for the tree. And the tree is happy.

Every time I read this book, it gives me a queasy feeling. It is a visceral reaction. This book doesn’t sit right with me. Why would anyone have to be a shell of themselves to make someone else happy? Why does a one-directional relationship make the tree happy? Why does the boy think it is okay to keep asking of the tree when he never gives back? Why doesn’t the boy mature as he gets older?

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Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
August 12, 2021
The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. First published in 1964 by Harper & Row, it has become one of Silverstein's best known titles and has been translated into numerous languages.

The book follows the lives of an apple tree and a boy, who develop a relationship with one another. The tree is very "giving" and the boy evolves into a "taking" teenager, a middle-aged man, and finally an elderly man. Despite the fact that the boy ages in the story, the tree addresses the boy as "Boy" his entire life.

In his childhood, the boy enjoys playing with the tree, climbing her trunk, swinging from her branches, carving "Me + T (Tree)" into the bark, and eating her apples.

However, as the boy grows older, he spends less time with the tree and tends to visit her only when he wants material items at various stages of his life, or not coming to the tree alone (such as bringing a lady friend to the tree and carving "Me +Y.L." (her initials, often assumed to be an acronym for "young love")) into the tree.

In an effort to make the boy happy at each of these stages, the tree gives him parts of herself, which he can transform into material items, such as money (from her apples), a house (from her branches), and a boat (from her trunk).

With every stage of giving, "the Tree was happy". ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهاردهم ماه می سال 2009میلادی

عنوان: درخت بخشنده؛ نویسنده: شل سیلورستاین؛ مترجم: سیما مجیدزاده؛ مشهد، گل آفتاب، 1383 در 55ص؛ شابک 9645599326؛ چاپ هفتم 1388؛ چاپ دهم 1392، شابک 9789645599322؛ موضوع داستانهای خیال انگیز از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

مترجم: هایده کروبی؛ تهران، انتشارات فنی ایران، 1385، در 36ص؛ شابک: 9643891739؛

مترجم: مونا ماشی؛ تهران، ماشی، 1387، در یک جلد؛ شابک 9786009060184؛

مترجم: کمال برزگر بفرویی؛ قم، فراکاما، 1390، در 52ص؛ شابک9786009241309؛

مترجم: امیرحسین مهدی زاده؛ تهران، نشر نو، آسیم، 1392، در 58ص؛ شابک9789647443784؛

مترجم: کمال مرادی؛ تهران، پلک، 1392، در 104ص؛ شابک9789642862290؛

مترجم: صفورا نراقی؛ تهران، البرز فر دانش، 1393 ، در 44ص؛ شابک9786002022622؛

مترجم: هرمز ریاحی؛ تهران، انتشارات خروس، 1391 ، در 58ص؛ شابک9786009453924؛

سیلور استاین، نام آوری خویش را به عنوان نویسنده ی ادبیات کودکان؛ مدیون همین کتاب است؛ داستانی درباره: یکی که میبخشد، و دیگری که میستاند؛ داستان در مورد درختی ست که «سایه»، «میوه»، «شاخه» و حتی «کنده اش» باعث شادی پسرکی میشود

متن داستان درخت بخشنده و مهربان
روزی روزگاری درختی بود ….؛ و پسر کوچولویی را دوست میداشت؛ پسرک هر روز میآمد، برگهایش را جمع میکرد؛ از آنها تاج میساخت، و شاه جنگل میشد؛ از تنه اش بالا میرفت؛ از شاخه هایش آویزان میشد، و تاب میخورد، و سیب میخورد؛ با هم قایم باشک بازی میکردند؛ پسرک هر وقت خسته میشد زیر سایه اش میخوابید؛ او درخت را خیلی دوست میداشت؛ خیلی زیاد؛ و درخت خوشحال بود؛ اما زمان میگذشت؛ پسرک بزرگ میشد؛ و درخت بیشتر تنها بود؛ تا یک روز پسرک نزد درخت آمد؛ درخت گفت: «بیا پسر، ازتنه ام بالا بیا، و با شاخه هایم تاب بخور، سیب بخور، و در سایه ام بازی کن، و خوشحال باش.»؛ پسرک گفت: «من دیگر بزرگ شده ام، بالا رفتن و بازی کردن، کار من نیست؛ میخواهم چیزی بخرم، و سرگرمی داشته باشم؛ من به پول احتیاج دارم؛ میتوانی کمی پول به من بدهی؟»؛ درخت گفت: «متاسفم، من پولی ندارم»؛ من تنها برگ و سیب دارم؛ سیبهایم را به شهر ببر بفروش؛ آن وقت پول خواهی داشت، و خوشحال خواهی شد؛ پسرک از درخت بالا رفت؛ سیبها را چید و برداشت و رفت؛ درخت خوشحال شد؛ اما پسرک دیگر تا مدتها بازنگشت …؛ و درخت غمگین بود؛ تا یکروز پسرک برگشت؛ درخت از شادی تکان خورد؛ و گفت «بیا پسر، از تنه ام بالا بیا، با شاخه هایم تاب بخور، و خوشحال باش»؛ پسرک گفت: «آنقدر گرفتارم که فرصت بالا رفتن از درخت را ندارم، زن و بچه میخواهم، و به خانه احتیاج دارم؛ میتوانی به من خانه بدهی؟»؛ درخت گفت: «من خانه ای ندارم؛ خانه ی من جنگل است؛ ولی تو میتوانی شاخه هایم را ببری؛ و برای خود خانه ای بسازی و خوشحال باشی»؛ آنوقت پسرک شاخه های درختش را برید و برد، تا برای خود خانه ای بساز��؛ و درخت خوشحال بود؛ اما پسرک دیگر تا مدتها بازنگشت؛ و وقتی برگشت، درخت چنان خوشحال شد، که زبانش بند آمد؛ با اینحال به زحمت زمزمه کنان گفت: «بیا پسر، بیا و بازی کن»؛ پسرک گفت: «دیگر آنقدر پیر و افسرده شده ام، که نمیتوانم بازی کنم؛ قایقی میخواهم، که مرا از اینجا ببرد، به جایی دور، میتوانی به من قایق بدهی؟؛ درخت گفت: «تنه ام را قطع کن و برای خود قایقی بساز؛ آن وقت میتوانی با قایقت از اینجا دور شوی؛ و خوشحال باشی»؛ پسر تنه ی درخت را قطع کرد؛ قایقی ساخت، و سوار بر آن از آنجا دور شد؛ و درخت خوشحال بود؛ پس از زمانی دراز، پسرک بار دیگر بازگشت، خسته، تنها و غمگین؛ درخت پرسید «چرا غمگینی؟ ای کاش میتوانستم کمکت کنم؛ اما دیگر نه سیب دارم، نه شاخه، حتی سایه هم ندارم برای پناه دادن به تو»؛ پسر گفت: «خسته ام از این زندگی، بسیار خسته و تنهام؛ و فقط نیازمند با تو بودن هستم، آیا میتوانم کنارت بنشینم؟»؛ درخت خوشحال شد، و پسرک پیر، کنار درخت نشست، و در کنار هم زندگی کردند؛ و سالیان سال، در غم و شادی به زندگی ادامه دادند؛ …)؛ پایان

دوستان خوبم، آیا شرح داستان، چیزی به یاد ما نمیآورد؟ بیشتر ما شبیه پسرک همین داستان هستیم، و با مادر، و پدر خود، چنین رفتاری داریم؛ درخت همان مادر و پدر ماهاست، تا وقتی کوچکیم، دوست داریم با آنها بازی کنیم؛ سپس تنهایشان میگذاریم، و دوباره زمانی به سویشان برمیگردیم، که نیازمند هستیم و گرفتار، برای مادر و پدر خود، وقت نداریم، آیا تا به حال به این فکر کرده ایم، که مادر و پدر، برای ما همه چیز را فراهم میکنند، تا ما را شاد نگاه دارند، و با مهربانی چاره ای برای رفع مشکلمان، پیدا میکنند، و تنها چیزی که در عوض از ما میخواهند، این است که تنهایشان نگذاریم؛ به مادر خود عشق بورزیم، و به پدر، احترام بگذاریم، فراموششان نکنیم؛ برایشان زمان اختصاص دهیم؛ همراهیشان کنیم؛ شادی آنها در دیدن روی ماهاست؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 17/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 20/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Benjermin.
8 reviews8 followers
November 27, 2007
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 job of narrative to relate a story. It is the job of a classic to relate a timeless story, to which countless readers of any age can relate. So whence the hatred? Is it because so many readers have known people who have taken and taken with such unrelenting fervor that they then displace this hatred onto a book that merely tells a story so fundamental it can't help but arouse feelings in any human who reads it?

Silverstein, in my opinion, reached his peak with this book, so simple, and so pure, and more timeless than any book I can think of (at the moment).
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 348 books97.6k followers
September 16, 2022
I added this book to my shelf years ago in the physical world. I've read it, I don't know how many times, mostly aloud to children.

In conversations with other people, I've discovered that there is strong dislike for this book. I like this book, mostly because it does make me uncomfortable. I'd say the same thing about Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece.

You can read either of these books in less than 15 minutes, so I'm not going to worry too much about a spoiler. Basically, the tree is friends with a boy. The tree gives freely of itself to the boy, from being a place to play to furnishing apples, to finally sacrificing itself to be lumber. The tree never expresses any regret for being so generous. It never questions what the boy requests of it. Even when the boy is an old man, and the best the tree can offer is to be a stump for the boy to sit on, there is never any resentment.

I very much like that Silverstein never signals to the reader how he thinks the reader should react to the story. He has the same technique in The Missing Piece. He tells the story simply and leaves it up to the reader to judge the characters.

I like that. It's not easy, but I like it.

In a time when many children's books are telling children what to think or feel, when many books for kids have become entirely too preachy, I think a book where the adult can close it and say, "Well, what do you think about that?" is a very good idea. It's easy to agree that the boy is selfish. But what about the tree? And, again, the same is true of The Missing Piece. Good books that make kids (and adults) think.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,145 reviews2,180 followers
May 7, 2023
Shel Silverstein tells us the story of a boy and a tree. The tree loves the boy and gives him its fruits, leaves, branches, and even the trunk to the boy. But the boy grows older and still asks for more.

You can see it as a toxic relationship between a boy and the tree. This can also be interpreted as a story of the unconditional love of the tree with the boy.

"I wish that I could give you something... but I have nothing left. I am an old stump."

Different people will interpret this book in different ways. But no one can deny the fact that this is one of the most important books that most of us have read during our childhood.

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Profile Image for TK421.
556 reviews261 followers
April 28, 2016
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:

The setting: Mommy and Daddy's bed.

After a torturous time of getting my kids to brush their teeth, put on their pajamas, and convinced that they should only bring two stuffed animals apiece to bed, I began to read the books. The first book went well. The kids laughed. My wife and I smiled. The second book was just as good as the first book. More laughter. More smiles. Then it was time for THE GIVING TREE. Now I’ve read all of Shel Silverstein’s books. I find them quite enjoyable and zany and creative.

THE GIVING TREE was no different. Or so I thought. You see, I never really paid much attention to the story. Well that’s not entirely true. I have always liked the message about giving when others are constantly taking. And Christmas time is a perfect time to share this message.

But my son, Noah, interpreted the book differently.

As I read the book I focused on how the little boy grows into a man and loses his innocence of giving, taking on a more selfish attitude. My son saw the boy growing older. When the tree gave everything but its stump to the boy as a man, I saw this as a generous message of charity. Noah saw it as the man killing the tree. But that’s not all.

An excerpt of the night:

Me: The End. That was a good story.

Noah: I didn’t like it.

Me: Why? The tree was very generous, and the man realized that he had only taken and never given back.

Noah: (Staring blankly at me as if I had just finished reading him my bank statement.)

Me: What didn’t you like about the story?

Noah: The boy grows old and kills the tree and is now going to die.

Me: (Inwardly: SSSSSHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!! The death subject.)

Me: No, honey. The tree gave its branches and trunk to the man—

Noah: The boy killed the tree. And now the boy is old and is going to die.
Me: No, buddy. The tree just changed. And the little boy lived a long life—

Noah: And now he is going to die.


So having no other way to combat my son’s determination to prove that the tree was murdered and that the little boy was now an old man and was going to die soon, I did what every father should do in this matter.

Me: Ask Mommy what she thinks, buddy.

Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,014 reviews97 followers
February 24, 2017
Please visit our blog at www.twogalsandabook.com to see this and other reviews!

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a must read for children. It's a story that can bring tears to your eyes. Children can learn about the importance of caring, giving, and how we should treat others.

This essential and childhood favorite still remains a part of our home library.

Profile Image for Morgan.
371 reviews16 followers
September 16, 2016
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 this black hole of a child has.

I feel that sacrifice, without a concept of self, gives less weight to the sacrifice.

This could be rewritten with a hungry boy eagerly gnawing on the scraps that his mother is cutting off from her body.
Profile Image for Kenny.
494 reviews865 followers
September 3, 2022
“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.”
The Giving Tree ~~ Shel Silverstein


I recently reread Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. It was the first time in many years I have read it. I love this book ; I always have. But, reading it as an adult, over 30, was so different this time around. The warm fuzzies of past reads were missing. Now, it made me feel sad, and empty. This go around, I saw it not as a parable of generosity and love, but instead I saw it as a story of selfishness, greed and destruction. Perhaps I was influenced this time by events of my past, or by the events of mr trump's follies. Or, maybe, I've become jaded by age ...


The funny thing is, I still love The Giving Tree . It was powerful the first time around, and even more so this time. What can you say about a book that had a profound impact on you in your youth and again, years later but in a totally different way. The tree is selfless (me as an adult) and the boy becomes selfish (me in my youth) ~~ and let's not talk about the thing's I've (the boy) done for love.

Yup, I can relate.
Profile Image for Brian Yahn.
310 reviews593 followers
July 12, 2016
The Giving Tree will rip your heart out in 621 words.

We all know and love Shel Silverstein for his whimsical poems, but The Giving Tree is both one of the saddest and most hopeful stories ever told. Pure and utter genius, this one is.
Profile Image for Agir(آگِر).
437 reviews493 followers
May 16, 2021
من دلم می خواست می توانستم به تو چیزی بدهم
اما چیزی برایم باقی نمانده. من فقط یک کنده پیر
...و کهنسالم. متاسفم

درخت برای هرکسی می‌تواند یادآور کسی یا چیزی باشد
می‌تواند همان زمینی باشد که به ما همه‌چیز داد
اما نابودش کردیم
و میتواند در معنایی دور، یک دوست یا همسر و... باشد
اما برای من فقط یادآور یک نفر است
ممنون عموشلبی عزیز
که به یادم آوردی «مادر» چه وجود مقدسی است
که عظمت عشقش فراتر از درک ماست

پسرک بزرگ شد و پیر شد اما هیچوقت از درخت سپاسگزاری نکرد
و با خودم فک می‌کنم که چقدر شبیه اویم!!!
Profile Image for Carol.
292 reviews
February 9, 2010
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.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,297 reviews2,289 followers
February 17, 2023
I don't know why I cried reading this one.
No, I know why I did.
It reminded me of the times I take my parents for granted.
It reminded me of the times I take those who were selfless for me for granted.
The one who keeps giving keeps on giving without expecting in return.
While I am like the one who keeps on taking keeps on taking.
It is just not only that.
I don't know how to describe the moments the boy keeps coming back to the tree especially in the end when how both the tree and the boy(who was a man by then) ended up being together.
The giving tree made such an impact with such a few lines. I loved the illustrations✨
Profile Image for Nilesh Kashyap.
22 reviews45 followers
December 9, 2012
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 missing (currently balanced on bricks) and add an extra plank to my bed so that I can lay with my legs spread a little more. After being fully relaxed, then, yes then, I would eat that tasty fruit and thus making sure that miniature, cute-looking, never-happy piece-of-shit gets nothing.
But seriously speaking (this does not mean, I was not serious before), the tree which reduced itself to a stump, repeatedly asked the boy to sit under her shade and play with her. But all that mattered to that boy were his needs, indeed the tree fulfilled all his needs by giving all she had and not once that boy was thankful to her.

I don’t think this story signifies parent and child relationship. This boy, all he shared was his problems but what about those moments when he enjoyed his life. In reality, obviously we tell our problems to our parents, and they do eventually help us get rid of it. But it is also those moments of happiness that we share with them.
Happiness gets double when shared (with the right person).
Parents do grow along with the child unlike the tree which diminished itself to make child happy, but never ever saw him happy and smiling.
This story is often read by parents to their child but what if it makes them feel miserable and guilty, thinking that their parents are like the ‘giving tree’ and they don’t give anything in return. How can anyone read this book to a child?

I told the story to my mother and asked about her thoughts - First of all she recites a verse in Sanskrit and translates to me as:
A tree never eats its own fruit and a river never drinks its own water.
Further she explains it that they (tree, river and in general nature) exist not for themselves but for others.
I think to myself that it is also we people (certainly not everyone), who are there to protect and conserve them as our token of mutual love.
As I am writing this review a song plays faintly in my mind:
Sweet dreams are made of these
Who am I to disagree?
Travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something
Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused
Sweet dreams are made of these
Who am I to disagree?
I am utterly confused what this story is about and what message Mr. Silverstein was trying to convey....but what i know for sure is that Marilyn Manson Rocks!
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books404 followers
January 29, 2023
Is this a children's story or the most effective flash fiction for adults ever written? The story is that of a one-sided relationship. The tree gives fully of herself, without holding anything back. The boy takes and takes, thinking only of himself. The story is both beautiful and unsettling. The simple prose is perfect for conveying this didactic story, which remains as sharp as ever nearly 60 years after its initial publication. Over the decades, this five-star book has only grown in its importance and impact.
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,576 followers
August 8, 2017
Book Review
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.

About Me
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.

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Profile Image for Merrin.
756 reviews49 followers
August 29, 2007
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.

Maybe too it's that I'm a Christian and can see a parallel between God and mankind. Maybe it's that I'm a daughter and can see the parallel between parent and child. Maybe it's that I'm environmentally aware and can see a parallel between the earth and humanity. There are so many layers to this book, so many different things to take from it.

I've read other people say that the tree is wimpy, weak willed, allowing the boy to take everything he has without a word of protest. Can't you see that's the point? How much strength does it take to perfectly submit to someone else? To give everything of yourself to make them happy, to give them what they need. Would you fault your parents for not taking that Hawaiian cruise they wanted because you needed braces instead?

I can see myself in the boy, can see the ways that I've taken from God, my parents, the earth, without a word of thanks, even a thought for what they have to give up for me. Does it make me angry? Sometimes. Does it make me sad? A lot of the time. Does it make me hate this book for pointing out the ways in which I fall short? Nope. I'm a big girl, I can take it.
Profile Image for Laura.
385 reviews516 followers
August 31, 2017
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 people who think that it is. When I was a kid, it was held up as the ne plus ultra of depth and beauty in children's literature. God help us if that's true, but luckily it isn't. If you want a proper story about self-sacrifice that won't make you want to go out and take a poleax to every tree within a five-mile radius, try The Fire Cat.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,545 followers
February 24, 2017
Shel Silverstein is truly one of the greatest American poets for kids. The Giving Tree is a wonderful story about friendship and ageing. No spoilers, but don't let your kids miss out on this absolutely gorgeous story!
Profile Image for Mutasim Billah .
112 reviews193 followers
September 5, 2020
For such a small children's book The Giving Tree has managed to polarize opinions on a very interesting topic: the joy of giving. At what point does selflessness equal madness and folly, or at what point is unconditional love become toxic behavior?

The story is of a boy and an apple tree. The boy grows up and keeps demanding of the tree and the tree keeps on lovingly providing for the boy until there is nothing left but a stump.

Silverstein initially found it difficult to get The Giving Tree published as publishers thought the subject matter was too sad for children. However, upon release, the book became increasingly popular by word-of-mouth. Christian schools and churches found the subject matter of the joys of giving very much to the tastes of biblical stories. Other readers had less favorable views of the story. For instance, the boy in the book never seemed to thank the tree, leading to readers speaking out that the boy was exploiting the tree. Some even went as far as calling the relationship between the boy and tree as masochistic.

Profile Image for Calista.
3,882 reviews31.2k followers
March 28, 2018
I have always loved this book. AS youth we even acted it out as a skit with four people playing the tree.

Last year, I read someone memoir and they hated this book and talked about how unhealthy the premise is. Giving all you have to someone that leaves you until there is nothing left. There are no healthy boundaries here. I can see it from this side and the other side. It bring out many different arguments which is what art is supposed to do. I have to say, I still love the story, I'm am more conscious around it now.
Profile Image for Jan Bednarczuk.
65 reviews16 followers
September 4, 2007
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 there for you anyway"? Or perhaps "If you love someone, just give them everything you have and expect nothing in return, ever."

I always want to cry for the lonely stump of a tree at the end. She was a good tree. She deserved more than the ungrateful brat who took away all of her apples and branches and trunk.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
165 reviews47 followers
August 3, 2007
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 of allowing herself to be a doormat, or, alternately, finally gets her revenge.

Who knows what Silverstein was trying to get across with this alternately touching and troubling parable? An ex-girlfriend of mine gave this book to me as a present early in the relationship. What was SHE trying to get across? I can't give anything as tangibly mind-boggling as "The Giving Tree" an entirely negative review, and as always the art is cute and affecting. And who can say, maybe the guy just wanted to tell a little story about a nice tree? Foremost among Silverstein's many gifts (apart from the more obvious talents of humor and rhyming) were pathos and irreverence. In the case of "The Giving Tree", for this reader anyway, it's very difficult to determine which of those traits is rearing its head here.

Bottom line: It's not a good present for your significant other.
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