The Giving Tree The Giving Tree discussion


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How much giving is "too" giving?

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message 1: by Christy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Christy I have a very hard time with this book. A lot of elementary teachers use it as an example of friendship and helping a friend. I don't agree with that, because the relationship between the boy and the tree is obviously not healthy. The tree gives, the boy takes, until the tree is not a tree at all. I don't agree with teaching children that in order to be a good friend you have to give yourself away. Don't even get me started on Rainbow Fish.


message 2: by Tracy O (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:09PM) (new)

Tracy O I just read this to my 4-year old son (I remembered it, but didn't do a good pre-view job), and while I love the illustrations, this really isn't a good message about how to behave in a relationship. Also, I bought a book of classic fairy-tales to read to him which wasn't a good decision - in every fairy tale people seem to meet with violent deaths or they have evil parents. After reading him a few he has all kinds of questions about dying. I'm switching back to more age-appropriate material and I'm going to be much more careful about pre-viewing stuff in the future.

I DO like the Sidewalk Ends, however.


message 3: by S (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

S You brought up a great point and discussion!
I love this book. It illustrates the complexities of relationships, giving, and taking beautifully.

I think the messages are, giving in a healthy way brings one far more contentment than taking(the boy didn't seem nearly as content as the tree throughout much of the book), however, giving in an unhealthy way is detrimental. In other words, as long as she gave what a tree could give (shade, leaves, apples, a climbing place,etc.) she was happy and the boy loved her for who she was. The relationship became detrimental once the boy didn't love her for who she was, and she gave more than she "could" (apples to sell for money, branches to build a house, etc.)
When we read this book to our children, it provides us a vehicle for discussing "healthy" giving, not just giving.


message 4: by Patricia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Patricia Elzie-Tuttle (theinfophile) I agree completely. The tree's codependence should be used as an educational tool to discuss not only healthy giving, but gratitude as well. I don't think the boy ever says, "Thank you," much less gives anything back to the tree. Feigned attention, perhaps. I still think it is quite a good book, and has some useful lessons for both children AND adults.

I'm a huge fan of "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O."


message 5: by S (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

S Great point about the tree's codependence! I was also reading that the relationship between the boy and the tree has been compared to that of parent and child. As parents, we give and give and give, but usually don't get much gratitude in return...we give for the joy of giving, which is to some extent normal and healthy. When the tree started giving in the form of "material things," to keep the boy with her...that's when their relationship started to break down. I think the book also illustrates that part of parenthood is about letting our children grow up and finding their own independence. Giving too much can be crippling for both parent and child.


message 6: by Tracy O (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Tracy O Thanks for the feedback from everyone - you turned this around so I can see the opportunity for pointing out how things could have worked better (the value of giving back and appreciating what's given) rather than discounting the book altogether . And, I love the The Missing Piece.....too!


message 7: by Hubby (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Hubby Have you all really read the french edition of this book?! Thats impresive!


message 8: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy I have always seen this book as the way a parent loves a child. I think it is beautiful and true to life when viewed that way. Fortunately, most of us teach our children that eventually they can do things for themselves - and there's the whole co-dependency thing.


❀ Sariah ❀ I don't agree. Yeah you don't have give yourself away to be good friends with someone. The elementary teachers are probably aren't saying that you have to give yourself away in order to be a good friend. But the tree was SO nice! It gave itself to the little boy! What friend could be better than that? I agree with the elementary teachers. It IS an example of friendship and helping a friend(and you really should get started on Rainbow Fish.It is NOT sad!).


message 10: by Pandora (new)

Pandora Tracy I agree four is too young for fairy tales but, I hope you might look at them again when your son is older. As a storyteller there is a lot of value to be found in fairy tales/folk tales. The thing to remember is that the tales started out as adult tales told during violent times. Many fairy tales are about how to grow up and become a worthy adult. There is also a lot of varation in fairy tales. Rose Red and Snow White is actually a tale of two sisters who work together.

There is a collection by Jane Yolen called The Pen is Mighty than the Sword. The collection is trying to encourage boys to use their brains rather than they fists. It is good for ages eight and above.


Erika Neal Christy wrote: "I have a very hard time with this book. A lot of elementary teachers use it as an example of friendship and helping a friend. I don't agree with that, because the relationship between the boy and t..."


Erika Neal I agree with that subject. it is about giving. the boy is taking. That is not the right thing.


Erika Neal I dont think this a good book on how to be giving. Because the tree is giving and the boy is taking not giving. Give the tree something Darn it!!!!!


Erika Neal Well i am new to this thing so if anybody wants to help be-friends:)


message 15: by Anna (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anna He kept taking and taking and taking and taking until that was nothing left but the stump. I think that is selfish but the tree doesn't care. It's a sweet story but I can't like the boy since he is so selfish...all is left is the tree. How could you make the story better?


message 16: by Anna (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anna What's the moral of this tale? what does it tell children? Take everything from a friend? or what?


L & D This was my fav book as a child. What I got from it, is there will always be that one person you can turn to and count on and that someday I should be that person for my own child.


The Lonely Angel i didnt like it at all. :( the boy was selfish. the tree was just too nice!


Brent The boy is not presented as a hero here. It's an example of how easy it is to abuse what is given you like "the goose that laid the golden egg." It's a beautiful tree, and the goodness is taken advantage of, but the lesson is valid. It's no "healthy relationship" model, but it is a lovely story. The boys behavior gets him nothing in the end.


message 20: by Anna (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anna He does get to sit on the stump...


Brent Yes, he does get that. Seems like not quite the grand prize though....


message 22: by Anna (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anna The tree has given everything for the boy and in the end what does the tree get?? nothing...at all.


Brent Yep. that's the truth. Less than nothing even.It's a terrific story. It is not, however a happy story and sadly it's often a true story...


Anum I think the question is not how much giving is too giving, the question is how much taking is 'too' much taking......

The sad part about this book was that if you offer a little, the world is such a mean place, that it snatches everything from you, till the point of your uprooting...

I felt sad for the tree and sadly, because I suppose I am self-absorbed like most human beings are, I relate myself with the tree and not with the boy, never with the boy. The reason, I think that is so is because I too wonder why does the tree keep on giving, isn't it time it got something in return???? But the tree is not like us, it is selfless and giving like Nature usually is and we take it for granted and take and take and take... Never asking ourselves, IS IT TOO MUCH I AM ASKING THIS TIME?

And we never wonder why the boy didn't ask that question, because we ourselves ignore to ask that question from ourselves more times than not. I think the fact that a children's book, with so few words and so few pages, depicted such a harsh truth about the world so beautifully is absolutely amazing...


message 25: by zaju (last edited Jun 30, 2011 12:16PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

zaju I know that the tree was too giving but the boy was too taking.


Natalie I think this is a perfect lesson to teach our kids. That we shoud have gratitude. That we shouldn't take advantage of anyone or anything. And that if we only take from poeple, they will no longer be there. Do not let this undermine the power of a gift. That giving, is an act of love, and you should love in return.


Anna Lee What ever you do don't let your kids read; Uncle Shelby's A B Z's. lol


message 28: by Ericka (last edited Jul 01, 2011 07:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ericka I love this book! But I tend to like sad books. The take away message that I get from this book is that it is about unconditional love. A message that was always taught to me growing up is to give expecting nothing in return. That said, the little boy was very selfish and I think as Natalie (above) said, it could be a good springboard to talk to kids about gratitude and giving.

Also, if any of you have seen the movie Blue Valentine, Ryan Gosling's character has a tatoo of the front cover of this book.


message 29: by zaju (new) - rated it 1 star

zaju I think the boy showed that you should not take from friends no matter who or what they are.


message 30: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Li Sassy Gay friend calls it a snuff film in the making.


message 31: by Brandy (last edited Jul 18, 2011 07:33PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brandy You should read the spin off "The Taking Tree" by Simon and Schuster Children's... funny!


Maisey Actually have any of you thought of this? The reason the child keeps asking the tree for things(greedily) is because maybe the tree is his parents, maybe he doesn't have any parents and like us kids we always take things for granted from our parents, and yes a lot of times they will give it to us because they love us, and then we grow, and well we know right from wrong...


message 33: by Lynda (new) - added it

Lynda AS a teacher and parent, I have worried re: the real message THE GIVING TREE sends. So,as the children's author of middle grade book (ages 10 and up) entitled , ONE FOR THE MURPHYS (Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Group for Young Readers~Ma­y 10, 2012), I have addressed this very issue. A scrappy foster child, having been thrust into a loving family who shows her a side of life she didn't think existed, wonders--i­f the Giving Tree had truly loved the boy, how would the tree have really turned out at the end? I thought it about time someone ask that question of kids and other readers of TGT. I love Shel Silverstein's other books, but this one...


Chris I can't tell you how many times I have read this book. I tell my daughter (17 now) to read book so she can get grounded again. This is a story of should and should nots. I really hate when people tear apart the classics and want to ban them because they don't have a happy ending. Wake up people in real life things don't always have a happy ending.


Allyson Christy wrote: "I have a very hard time with this book. A lot of elementary teachers use it as an example of friendship and helping a friend. I don't agree with that, because the relationship between the boy and t..."

I agree!


Sunny Christy wrote: "I have a very hard time with this book. A lot of elementary teachers use it as an example of friendship and helping a friend. I don't agree with that, because the relationship between the boy and t..."

I think the meaning is not the friendship because the ages of the persons do not support that. In my opinion the book speaks about the generosity of the parent who gives everyting in his child without any doubt. Every time I read this book I cry.


message 37: by Yuri (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yuri Corona I originally picked this book a few years ago for my boys. It set a clear example of giving without expecting anything in return. Nowadays, even donating your time or company Is plainly too much. Nevertheless, I explained my boys that even though the tree had nothing left to give; he would still give what he wouldn't have just to see you smile. Is the all or nothing rule. Love in it's entirety.


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