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Book Review: The Giving Tree

Updated on June 9, 2011
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

One of my favorite books of all time

Hopefully like me, you love to read. As a kid, my family didn't have much money. Buying new books was a luxury that we could not afford, especially in a family of five children. That was why when a friend of the family brought me to the public library in Westchester, NY to get me my first ever library card, I was ecstatic. I was about as ecstatic as a kid waking up on Christmas morning, except the gifts I would receive were limitless and so could not be counted. I would soon be walking through a garden with rows and rows of precious fruits and vegetables--all exotic and none at all without delicious tastes and all for my picking. Upon entering the library, the first thing that hit me was the smell. I loved the smell of the library: It was the welcoming combination of new carpet, old books and women's perfume that was somewhat fruity. Maybe it was the smell of happiness if happiness could have a smell that is, because surely that is what I was feeling. Seeing my name on that card which was about twice the thickness of an index card but smaller and with the small rectangular embossed metal plate inside it. Safe to say, it was one of the best presents I'd ever received. To me, my juvenile library card was a free lifetime pass to multiple dimensions of the imagination.

The First Library Book I Ever Borrowed

Maybe it was the green color that was attractive to me because I kind of like that color. Or maybe it was the way the Tree can mimic a human being, like on the front dust jacket as he is throwing the boy an apple (his first of several gifts). Looking back now, I'm not exactly sure why I chose this particular book out of so many other wonderful books, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. But this one book that I borrowed would be the first of many, many books to come. Being that I was so young, I was allowed to only borrow one book at a time. When I showed that I could be trusted to borrow more of the library's books, I was allowed more and more until one day my knapsack ripped from my having crammed so many books in over time. I ended up after that one setback, allowed only five per week. I was devastated but carried myself well under the dire circumstances.

The Moral of the Story

The biggest and most important moral of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree is indeed self sacrifice. Whatever thing the boy needed from the tree, the boy got. By the book's end, as a final act of piety or charity, the tree serves as a stump for the boy to sit upon who, by this point, is no longer a boy but a frail old man. Notice how the boy's parents never show up in the story. Their whereabouts is a complete mystery to the reader. Or is it the Tree that is the parent? Well, then that would make a lot of sense. Heaven only knows how much a parent will sacrifice for their children and the pains they endure to make sure that their children are well fed, are clothed and are safe from harm. So under this very same premise, the Tree had, but the book's end, provided unconditionally for the Boy and is so the epitome of a true parent...Remember the line, "Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood?"

I Really Would If I Had the Money

I don't know how many times I've bought this book for a child for his or her birthday, Christmas, or even for the older the kids, Commencement. I genuinely feel that this is an important book to own and so should be passed on down through the generations. I have no kids as of yet, but I do have three nephews and a niece and they ALL have a copy. Sure, there are many wonderful children's books out there to give to children, but how many has a message as important as The Giving Tree? Indeed, this is one of the rare ones. If I had the money, I'd go around and give this book to every household that has a kid. It may well change their lives as it did mine. The book's message is clear today as it was the day I borrowed it from my local public library and probably more so. This book will be enjoyed for many more years to come.

Watch the entire Giving Tree Movie Here

The Giving Tree On Sale

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    • RooBee profile image

      RooBee 7 years ago from Here

      The Giving Tree has always been one of my top favorites, too! I will definitely make sure that this one is in my son's collection and that we read it often. I really enjoyed your observations about the tree as a parent to the boy. Also, your sentiments about the library resonate deeply within me - I feel the same way & remember how magical it was to go there as a child. Thanks for a great hub!

    • profile image

      sandra rinck 7 years ago

      I love that book. I inevitably always end up giving it to someone. :D My daughter, an old friend... Never thought about the missing parents though. *scratching head*.

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you for your comment, Roobee.  Just goes to show you that somethings in life are indeed free.  Sometimes I see children in public disrespecting their parents and I want to say something but don't because it really isn't my business.  I just know that when I was a kid I didn't dare say anything negative to my parents because I knew better.  Some kids just take their parents for granted unfortunately.  They may only learn the lesson too late in their lives, probably when they become parents themselves. Kids just don't understand how much their parents sacrifice to provide and nurture them.

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Sandra, I thank you for joining and thank you for your comment. When we think about it, there are really good reasons why some books stand the test of time. Where the Wild things Are is another great children's book and will be around probably long after both of us are gone. Of course the list goes on and on. There's so much competition in the book market and many books that do get publish don't succeed, unfortunately. It's good to hear that your A Giver of Books like I am. I always in my life looked forward to getting books as presents. That's probably why I have hundreds! Please try to read more of my hubs and I'll do likewise.

    • flavorofair profile image

      flavorofair 7 years ago from California

      This was a family favorite, and still is! One of the first books I bought my daughter when she was first learning to read. Very much enjoyed this!

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thanks, flavorofair. I just love it's complex concept made easy to understand. Genius if you ask me. Another book I really enjoyed as a child was Richard Scary's What People Do All Day. I wonder if its even still sold today. I'd be more shocked if it wasn't.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I love this book too! And it is always interesting how the kids would answer our questions whenever we discuss this story to them. Cheers!

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Growing up, Shel Silverstein was one my favorite authors, mainly because he harbored a child's imagination and understood children so well psychologically. The Giving Tree was of course my favorite, but just from the top of my head, Where the Sidewalk Ends and Lafcadio also come to mind. Thanks for the compliment, ripplemaker!

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 7 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Another excellent hub, I love your reviews. Shel Silverstein was one of the best.

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you, UW! I can easily just do reviews to meet my Hub Challenge quota on just Seuss and Silverstein! If anything, It would be fun.

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 7 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Shel Silverstein is a great writer. I remember really liking that book when I was younger, been a long time though. I may reread it.

      When is self sacrifice too much? It is good to be selfless but there is a line when someone requires too much from an individual. Should we all be stumps? Or can be bear fruits and prosper as well.

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You brought up a great point, Drew. I look at the tree and boy as having a parent/child relationship. There really isn't much that a parent wouldn't do for their child, including death. I think that Shel Silverstein's message is to the children reading his book, who should honor and cherish their parents for all of the sacrifices they make for them. But everyone has their own interpretation--that's just what I got out of it.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I love that book and read it to my kids. My only problem with it was that I would choke up and we'd have some kind of long pauses.

      Also enjoyed your first trip to the library. I remember mine - I was 3 and my mother told me I could pick out any book I wanted and take it home. I was totally amazed. Actually, I still am. I love the library!

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Just recently, I've been visiting the library again after so many years. I noticed that more and more people are frequenting it as the economy is dwindling and people are becoming all the more wiser by borrowing DVDs and books there. In addition, for those that do not have an internet connection at home, they go to the library with their laptops. I heard that library use across the country is up somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-40%! I always feel so welcome there. Thank you for reading, Dolores! I appreciate it!

    • wavegirl22 profile image

      Shari 7 years ago from New York, NY

      It seems you never cease to amaze me . . . how I love this book . . . and oh how I love to go to the library almost as much as I am loving reading your hubs!

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you so much for that, wavegirl22 *blushes* It's always a pleasure to read your comments. I must admit, I'm floored by some of them. You make my writing hubs all the worth while! Thanks again.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      It's 8:30 in the morning here on the West Coast and I am crying my eyes out. I had no idea there was an animated version of the book.

      Lovely, Dohn, thanks.

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thanks, Lorlie. I'm sorry that I made you cry as that wasn't my intention. I take it that this hub affected you in a way and for that I feel as if I succeeded in my writing (?) I appreciate your comment.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Oh yes, Dohn, those were tears well spilt!

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Sheesh! I'm not very good with flattery! Thanks, Lorlie.

    • profile image

      hubpageswriter 7 years ago

      I'm going to check out the bookstores soon. Maybe I can read this for myself. Actually, children books are very good and could teach us lots of valuable lessons. I love the smell of libraries too. Good review here, Dohn..

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Hey, thanks, HPWriter. Without a doubt, this book is a must have for any library-personal or public. I have several children's books that I flip through time and again to remind myself the important lessons I mustn't ever forget!

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 7 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      I love this book! Silverstein is so uplifting and profound - I cannot think of better books for both children and adults! Best, Kartika

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you again, Kartika. I am in complete agreement with you. It's my belief that everyone should read this book as its message is timeless.

    • profile image

      tonisturn 7 years ago

      JUST JOINED AND YOU HAVE INSPIRED ME dohn121...only 1 hub so far, but inspiration will make me soar very soon, words will flow together, making sense as fast as lightning...so many parts to me, someone once said...and so many places i have been... reading what you have to say dohn121 inspires to get my stories shared...

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you, tonisturn and welcome aboard! I'm sure that you will enjoy your time here. Should you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask, as many of us are always eager to help! Good luck and thank you.

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 7 years ago

      Excellent hub, I love your reviews thanks

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You're welcome, Lgali. Thanks for reading.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      I love this Dohn, I really love the book LOL< of course the way you write it too, you will be the best dad DOHN< one day you will be, cmon do it now, LOL.....

      I will look for this book, and other books with same author...It seems they are very nice ones,

      thanks Dohn for gicing me the opportunity to know and share about the tree, giving tree, our parents...

      have a good day, Maita

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you so much, Maita! The way I interpreted the "Tree" as a parent just seemed correct to me. There are several parents I know that would do equally for their children what the "Tree" did for the "Boy." Shel Silverstein is one of the greatest children's book authors of all time and belongs with the likes of Dr. Seuss. I certainly hope that others will agree.

      One day I will become a dad, but first, I have to find a "mom." I do have a candidate, if you will ;)

      Thanks again, Maita! Good luck to your Steelers today!

    • Truth From Truth profile image

      Truth From Truth 7 years ago from Michigan

      Good review,I have never read this one myself. I will add this to read with my son also. It sounds like it has a good life lesson to teach.

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Really? This is one of the best books ever! And don't just take my word for it. The Teacher's Association placed it in their Top 100 which includes books from pre-K through 12th grade. This is definitely a keepsake, TFT. I hope you do end up buying it! Thank you.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I love, love, love this book! It's my favorite Shel Silverstein. Great hub!

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thanks, habee. This is not only one of the best children's books of all time, it's one of the BEST BOOKS of all time as well. Thanks for the compliment!

    • apricot profile image

      apricot 7 years ago from Italy

      You've really sold it to me, I mean, I know you didn't want to sell it but...well, you have! I'm going to have a hunt round the shops here for the Giving Tree but I won't be giving it to my nephews - no way this is mine!! Uh-oh, that's not following the message of the book though, is it. Perhaps, I should rethink this..

      I remember that feeling too of getting a book from the library when I was little! Ah! There was nothing else like it! Actually I wonder if that's why Christmases in the past were so special - I always had an Enid Blyton or a Roald Dahl box set to look forward to! And the Christmas I got Charlotte's Web....ok, you've reminded me - I don't do enough reading anymore. I think I might treat myself to a book this Christmas! Thanks Dohn - you always give me good ideas!!

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Gosh, apricot. I can't tell you how much I like reading your comments (or maybe I can?). The Giving Tree is one of my favorite books of all-time. I really hope that you get yourself a copy soon--actually, I recommend buying TWO copies--one to cherish and one to gawk at whenever the mood hits you. Shame about your nephews :D

      To this day, I still frequent the library. I'd live there if they gave me my own PC! Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl are great choices indeed. Charlotte's Web is another classic. A great hub has already been written here, otherwise I'd would've written a hub on it. READ, READ, READ! Merry Christmas, buddy! I hope you implement my ideas ;)

    • apricot profile image

      apricot 7 years ago from Italy

      Apparently the title is just 'the tree' in the Italian version and would you believe it, I went to the biggest book shop in my town today and they didn't even have it! (And there wasn't even a David Icke book either, sniff. Christmas will be hard this year!) I'm going to order 'The Tree' off the internet but by the time it arrives Christmas will be long gone so I might just keep it for myself and get it for my nephew some other time(tee hee!)

      Your memories of books and reading inspired me because I went out and bought myself a book as a present to myself for Christmas! (I shan't tell you what it is because I haven't opened it yet and I don't want to ruin the surprise for myself but it's by Jane Austen...oops!)

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      That's great to hear, apricot. It's always nice to buy something for oneself, as it's well-deserving :D I hope that you do end up buying it soon and as for your nephew...He gets an I.O.U., lol.

      Jane Austen, huh? I took a class in college on her and so have read almost all of her books. Whichever one it is, I'm sure that you'll enjoy it. All of her books are good.

      Merry Christmas! Thanks for reading this!

    • G Miah profile image

      Gous Ahmed 7 years ago from Muslim Nation

      I'll have to read the book, i also have a 2 year old daughter who loves to look through books. She has learnt so much from them by herself that me and my wife were surprised. One day she wanted to look through a book with me, as she sat on my lap, i thought i'll tell her the names of the fruits/colours/numbers etc, and to my amazement, as soon i opened it, she started telling me what they were!

      I'll have to buy the book and give it to her, after i've read it, and when she can read properly and understand! Loved the review! Thanks man!

    • G Miah profile image

      Gous Ahmed 7 years ago from Muslim Nation

      And by the way, my wife didn't teach my daughter what was in that book either!

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I really hope that you do get the opportunity to read "The Giving Tree," G Miah. As you now know, it's one of my all-time favorites. Yes, your daughter is sure to enjoy it. Wow. What an amazingly gifted daughter you have! That really is amazing. I'd like to hear your thoughts if and when you did purchase it (I recommend buying two copies by the way). Thanks again.

    • Teresa Laurente profile image

      Maria Teresa Rodriguez - Laurente 7 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

      Will be going back again to read all of your wonderful hubs. More power to you.

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you so much for that, Teresa! I really do appreciate it and hope to see you again.

    • I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s profile image

      I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s 7 years ago

      This is my favourite Childrens book.. EvER! :D Such and amazing message.. love that my son can now read it with me. Great one to review!

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thanks, I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s. I wholeheartedly agree with you. What other children's book (or any book for that matter) outlines the idea of self-sacrifice better and more simpler? Thanks again.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 7 years ago from United States

      This book is one of my favorites as well. I bought it for my parents the year I went off to college and put a sweet note in it. I then hid it in their bookshelf. I kind of forgot how much I love this book, I'm going to have to buy it for my daughter. Thanks for reminding me of a really great book!

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Angela. I hope that more and more people will become aware of this amazing work of Shel Silverstein and also (like yourself) to be reminded of it as well. You did a very good thing in giving it to your parents. I can't think of a better book to "give." I'm sure that your daughter will love it as well.

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 7 years ago

      My 8 year old just finished this book from the library and loved it. How can you not, I ask??? Just seeing the cover brought back fond memories for me. When I have more time, I'll watch the animated version. It looks all warm and cozy. Hope you are well, haven't seen you 'round these parts lately. Take care, Laura

    • profile image

      cpjohn 7 years ago

      Your insight into this book is refreshing. I loved this book and it's in my daughter's library. I can't wait to read it to her!

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you, Laura! This is one of the best books to EVER see print. The story is original and most of it is told in pictures, but it's nothing short of genius in my opinion. Please come by any time! It's great to hear from you.

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I gave this book to my niece perhaps a bit too early. She ended up drawing on it with a crayon (the horror) but just didn't know better. I'm going to have to buy her another one :( Which I don't mind :) I hope your daughter treasures it. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      This is my favorite! I've read my copy so many times, that it's falling apart. You've explained it so wonderfully, especially the moral of the story. I have to go an read it now...so much for reading more hubs!!! lol

      Glad to see you back Dohn! Missed ya! xoxo

    • dohn121 profile image
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      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Hey Beth! It's great to see and hear from you and of course it's great to be back in action. I'm not sure that I'll be on HubPages as frequently due to my new job, but you best best believe I'll do my best.

      This is without question one of the best books to ever see print so to hear others share the same sentiments is overwhelming. The book simply gets better each time I read it! Thanks again Beth!

      xoxox

      Dohn

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Congratulations on your new job Dohn!! I'm very happy for you. I'll miss you but I'll be looking with eager anticipation for your next publication! xoxo Beth

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Ha! Thanks Beth! I'm still not nearly at full-speed, but will do my best. It's wonderful to hear from you! xoxox

      Dohn

    • Mystique1957 profile image

      Mystique1957 7 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

      My brother Dohn...

      A nice review, a sweet story! I love children´s books! I have a book called "Tales from China", and I initially bought it before my son was born(Almost 28 years ago) Go figure! And I still enjoy reading the stories. Thumbs up, my man!

      Warmest regards and infinite eternal blessings,

      Al

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Hey, Al. Thanks for reading this and commenting. This is by far one of my favorite books of all time. It just resonates perfectly the importance of parenting and honoring one's parents. That is at least how I interpreted it. I can't believe that you have a 28 year-old son! Thanks so much Al!

      Warmest Regards,

      Dohn

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      boy that book is awesome, and it still is a great read, brings out the kid in everyone! or me... but love the library story as well... what would we do without libraries?

    • dohn121 profile image
      Author

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Hey, Rebecca. Don't you love that book? I think that being young is a state of mind and so has nothing to do with any physical. I still go to library at least once a week! It's great to hear that you like the library as well! Thanks Rebecca.

    • iloveBOOKS profile image

      iloveBOOKS 6 years ago

      I love the book cover, nice one.

    • bigpinelodgebooks profile image

      bigpinelodgebooks 6 years ago

      Very nice review. I love the memories you write about, too.

    • Windsweptplains profile image

      Hannah Price 6 years ago from The windsweptplains of Colorado

      I love The Giving Tree, it's one of the many books from my childhood.

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 6 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      I have never read this book before but it sounds like a must read. I know that it is a kids book but I truly want it for MYSELF.

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