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Dive Into a Good Book!

"Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." -Malala Yousafzai

Once There Was a Tree

The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree is one of my favorite children's books of all time. Yes, it is a bit sad, but I think it's important to recognize the way a book can make us feel, even if it is a feeling of sadness. The important thing to focus on with this book is the trees act of selflessness. The story follows a boy from childhood to adulthood as he visits the tree throughout different stages of his life. At each stage the boy wants something and the tree continues to give pieces of herself to the boy because it makes her happy. In the end, when the boy is an old man, he no longer wants anything tangible, but simply a quiet place to rest. That is when the tree offers him her stump. And the tree is happy.  


As the story unfolds we learn that the boy takes and takes from the tree without giving back anything in return. I think this is poses the question, "How would you feel if you were the tree?" There are many theories and interpretations of the book, but at its core, I believe the book is a reflection of unconditional love and generosity.


I like the idea of using this book to focus on character education, mainly the act of being kind. After reading this book to my students, I would facilitate a whole group discussion about the ways that the tree exhibited kindness. I would then ask my students, "What are some ways that you can show kindness?" As a matter of fact, this would be a great writing prompt. 


Additional lessons using The Giving Tree include:

  • Cause and Effect
  • Problem/Solution
  • Character Traits of the boy and the tree


Lexile Level: 720L