Teaching Children About Uncomfortable Truths (a Defense of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree)

Is this something that should be read to children? Is it about abuse, or unconditional love, or environmentalism. Does it even matter? Something to ponder about

The Misfortune Of Knowing

Z with giving treeShel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree is a polarizing book.

To some people, it’s “heartbreaking, moving and truly inspiring,” while others have called it a “horrible book” and “total misguidance wrapped in Marshmallow” (yes, that’s a quote).*

This classic children’s book features a sweet little boy who turns into a selfish adult. He exploits the love of a generous tree, who sacrifices her fruit, branches, and, ultimately, her trunk to satisfy the short-sighted desires of her friend. By the end, she is reduced to a lonely stump.

My daughters have three copies of this book: one in English, one in Spanish, and one in Latin.**

They love it, and have asked to read it several times (in all three languages), even though the story saddens them.

As one of my six-year-old twins said, after we had finished reading one of the versions yesterday, “The boy took so much and never even…

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