Silverstein, Shel. The Giving Tree. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. 64 pages.
The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is an excellently crafted literary work that illustrates the parent-child relationship, and teaches philosophical lessons about existence. The tree represents a parent; it is always willing to give more to the one it loves the child. The repetitive lines used every time the boy came and left help children to follow along with the story as well as illustrate the repetitive nature of parents provide anything for their child to be happy.
The illustrations present in this story add to the simplicity of the nature of this relationship the author uses only simple lines to create the illustrates. In addition he does not add any color. This extremely simplistic representation of the text adds how to how black and white the author is portraying the parent-child relationship. In addition to teaching the parent-child relationship, this picture book can be used to teach children about metaphysics, which is concerned with what is real. The tree loses a piece of itself every time the boy comes back. In the mind of a child this raises the question of is it still a tree? In the mind of a child when does this tree stop being a tree? What makes a tree a tree?
“I am sorry, Boy,” said the tree,” but I have nothing left to give you -”
These questions raised in the mind of a child can be extended upon to get a child to think about topic of metaphysics. In addition to provoking thoughts relating to metaphysics this book also shares the lesson of selflessness. It states that whenever the tree gives it is happy. The boy, however, consistently takes from the tree in an effort to be happy and always returns unsatisfied. This illustrates to children the importance of being kind and selfless rather than selfish.