• Enjoy listening and reading the full story of The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree, first published in 1964 by Harper & Row, is a children’s book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. This book has become one of Silverstein’s best known titles and has been translated into more than 30 languages.

The Giving Tree is a tale about a relationship between a young boy and a tree in a forest. The tree always provides the boy with what he wants: branches on which to swing, shade in which to sit, apples to eat, branches with which to build a home. As the boy grows older he requires more and more of the tree. The tree loves the boy very much and gives him anything he asks for. In the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, the tree lets the boy cut her down so the boy can build a boat in which he can sail. The boy leaves the tree, now a stump. Many years later, the boy, now an old man, returns and the tree says, “I have nothing left to give you.” 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 boy obliged and the tree was happy.

Ever since the book was published, it has generated controversy and opposing opinions for its interpreted messages, on whether the tree is selfless or merely self-sacrificing, and whether the boy is selfish or reasonable in his demands of the tree. The story clearly shows childhood as being a time of relative happiness in comparison to the sacrifice and responsibility of adulthood.

Some academic readers describe the book as portraying a vicious, one-sided relationship between the tree and the boy: with the tree as the selfless giver and the boy as a greedy and insatiable entity who constantly receives, yet never gives anything back to the tree; a selfish love that could be misrepresented and imitated by its young readers. Indeed, some of these speakers single the tree out as an irresponsible parent whose self-sacrifice has left the boy ill-equipped. Other readers argue that the tree gives everything to the boy freely because she loves him, and its feelings are reciprocated by the boy when he returns to the tree for a rest. In this way, the relationship between the tree and the boy as he grows up could be viewed as similar to that between a parent and child; despite getting nothing in return for a long time, the tree puts the boy’s needs foremost, because it wants him to be happy. Indeed, the only time the tree ever seems to be sad is when it feels that it has nothing left to give the boy and that the boy might never return.

Shel Silverstein also wrote this same story in a song of the same name which was sung by Bobby Bare in his album “singing in the Kitchen”.

Source: wikipedia.