The Giving Tree: Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree

  • Author/Illustrator: Shel Silverstein

  • Publisher: HarperCollins

  • Publication Year: 1964

  • Brief Summary: A touching story of a selfless tree and her unconditional love for  little boy.  Silverstein traces their relationship through the boy’s life, until he became an old man and returned to the tree in the final pages for peace and comfort.

  • Awards (if any): on several Best Lists, including National Education Association’s “Kids’ Top 100 Books” (#24, 1999-2000), “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children” (#3, 2007), School Library Journal’s “Top 100 Picture Books” (#85, 2012), Scholastic Parent & Child magazine’s “100 Greatest Books for Kids” (#9, 2012), etc.

  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library:

    • Discussion on unconditional/sacrificial love, selflessness.  Are there people in your life that love you unconditionally?

    • What are some of the emotions Silverstein explores in this book?  Why do you think the tree is happy even when the boy is mistreating her (cutting into her trunk, chopping her down to build a boat, etc.)?

    • What is the mood of the story?

    • The story of the tree and the boy comes to a full circle at the end.  Have children draw out different parts of their friendship cycle.  What other kind of cycles do you see in nature?

  • Brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

    • Poetry unit

    • Text-to-world connections

  • Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.:

  • Accessed at: Personal Library


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