Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Giving Tree


"Once there was a tree. . .
and she loved a little boy."

I remember combing through my public school library, looking for a book to take home (being a shy kid, frequenting and ransacking the library was one of my favorite things to do). I spotted The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein tucked away in a corner shelf and could not put it down. As far as children's books went, it was different: philosophical, poetic and beautifully illustrated. Each page of the story drew me in. I wasn't adept at philosophy or poetry (being in first grade) but the story had a gentle and thoughtful quality to it—one that I appreciated. I rushed over to the librarian to sign out my discovery. Unfortunately, my little friends didn't seem too keen on exploring the relationship between a little boy and a tree. But I loved trees and spiritual things, and simply had to acquaint myself with the book.

Over the decades, there have been many different interpretations of this tale—some loathe it, others are deeply touched by it while others take offense to the underlying theme. I think that's the beauty of this book: the door seems to be wide open as to what meaning readers take away from it. It made me think and perceive differently at a young age. I felt bad for the tree, as well as for what the boy had eventually become. In a few pages, young readers are introduced to the concepts of aging, giving and loving. Definitely, a memorable reading experience. All these years later, and it still makes me think.

The Giving Tree film (1973) narrated by author Shel Silverstein.
Listen to a YouTuber read her followers a bedtime story (lovely).

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