The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree
Shel Silverstein

I was introduced to Where the Sidewalk Ends at around the age of 8. It opened up a whole new world of literature for me. Poetry, especially silly poetry, was an outlet into another realm of expression. To tell you the truth I loved Where the Sidewalk Ends so much I had no idea Shel Silverstien wrote anything else. That is, until, while working at a big chain bookstore, I wandered into the children’s section and found a copy of The Giving Tree. I read the whole entire book on the spot and it actually got me all misty eyed.

The Giving Tree is a story about a connection between a little boy and a tree. The tree always grants the boy whatever he wants: branches on which to swing, shade in which to sit, apples to eat, branches with which the boy, eventually a man, builds a home. As the boy grows older he calls for further sacrifice of the tree. The tree, loving the boy very much, gives him anything he asks for. In the ultimate act of altruism, the tree permits the boy to cut her down to build a boat in which he can sail. The boy leaves the tree, which is now, after all these years, merely a stump only to return many years later, a very old man. The tree says, "I have nothing left to give you." To which the boy replies, "I do not need much now, just a quiet place to sit and rest." The tree then says, "Well, an old tree stump is a good place for sitting and resting. Come boy, sit down and rest." The old man sits amiably upon the stump that once gave him great happiness and the tree, once again was content.
The boy may seem a bit selfish but it is the tree's job to provide him with whatever he needs. Isn't it?

I suppose this story speaks to me in a way it hadn’t that day at the bookstore, for I am now a mother to a beautiful little girl and given the chance, would risk life and limb for her happiness. She in return will always find use for me, even if it’s just for a nice place to sit and rest awhile, to which, I will forever be obliged.

After a few bad apples, I was able to find an animated version of The Giving Tree narrated by Shel Silverstein. Enjoy!

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