The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Last year, we launched Lower Lab Values with Respect, and we will launch this year’s Lower Lab Values with Respect – again! This is a value that we want to continue to keep at the forefront in our school community, and this year’s first Book of the Month, The Giving Tree, will remind every one of the importance of having respect for each other, for ourselves and for the world around us.
The Giving Tree, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, was first published over 50 years ago. It has been translated into many languages, and is considered a true classic. Readers of any age can discuss the simple sketches and simply written text that offer complex interpretations.
The Giving Tree tells the story of a boy who visits a tree, and the tree loves the boy. As the boy gets older, the relationship changes from one that is equally pleasing to both, to a relationship that benefits one at the expense of the other. The story speaks of friendship, relationships, love, happiness and generosity. It also shapes understanding of how respect is “a two-way street.”
Sharing The Giving Tree with children of all ages provides a wonderful opportunity to engage in thoughtful conversations. Some good discussion may be yielded from the following:
- Do you think the boy is selfish? Why or why not?
- Do you think the tree is happy? Why or why not?
- Can you think of a time when you gave something away when you really didn’t want to? Why did you do that?
- It is important to think about respect as it relates to friendships. In this story, was the friendship between the tree and the boy respectful? What makes a friendship respectful?
- Why did the author call his character “the boy,” even when he became a man?
- The tree could be a symbol for something bigger than just a tree. Something that must be respected. What could that be? What would the “boy” symbolize?
- Julius Irving, a famous basketball player, said, “I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important than popularity.” Is it better to be liked or respected?