Loni Edwards

Illustration and Paintings in Digital, Watercolors and Ink

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Giving Tree

For this week’s Perfect Picture Book Friday I chose the Shel Silverstein Classic, The Giving Tree.





Title:  The Giving Tree

Author/Illustrator: Shel Silverstein

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (1964)

Ages: 7 and up (the Publisher has it listed for 10+)

Themes:  Growing up, cause and effect, friendship, giving, acceptance


  Once there was a tree

And she loved a little boy.

And every day the boy would come

And he would gather her leaves

and make them

into crowns

and play king of the forest.

This is a delightful tale of the friendship and love of a little boy and his beloved tree. The tree is always there for the boy, all through out his years. It is a story of love and friendship told in the perfect way that Shel Silverstein was known for.

From the publisher:  Once there was a little tree … and she loved a little boy.

So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk … and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.

This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.


Shel Silverstein.com has a wonderful collection of activities, downloadables and even an app!

Unique teaching resources.com has some great ideas on using the book in the classroom

The Web English Teacher has some lesson plans

Easy Fun School is a homeschool site with neat ideas for use with the Giving Tree

Lesson Planet has a list of various lesson plans that help to: build ethical conscience, developing healthy snacks, learn poetry, etc.

Arbor Day.com has a wonderful program of giving the gift of a tree!

Arbor Day.com also has a link to volunteer to help plant trees in or near your community

Another wonderful resource at Arbor Day.com is the children’s activities page. Full of fun ideas for children and their families

Why I like this book:  I was reminded of this book when LeVar Burton read it during the World Read Aloud day on the Google Ed Google+ page. He read The Snowy Day and The Giving Tree. It was really wonderful! Most of you will remember LeVar as the host of the award winning PBS kids show, Reading Rainbow (And Star Trek The Next Generation and Roots!). Unfortunately, Reading Rainbow is no longer on the air, except maybe in rerun form. But, some exciting news that he shared was that Reading Rainbow is being reincarnated as an app! Kids will be able to use it for free. Such a great idea! Here is the video of LeVar reading as well as information on World Read Aloud Day and a Q&A with him:

The Giving Tree is a wonderful tale of growing up and the value of friendship. I really love the message of this book. Even though the reading is fairly simple, the concepts are a bit complex. So maybe that is why the publishers chose an older age bracket for it. I personally think younger children would enjoy it, but that, I guess, is up to the parent 😉

Here is The Giving Tree movie I found on Youtube. It’s from 1973 and is narrated by Shel Silverstein.



Perfect Picture Book Fridays are a weekly blog event where participants review some of their favorite picture books. The posts are compiled on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. They are categorized by theme to help parents, educators and readers find the perfect picture book easily. To learn more, please visit Susanna’s site where you will find the complete PPBF’s library.

Next Post

Previous Post


  1. Erik -This Kid Reviews Books 16/03/2012

    This is an AWESOME book! I really like your activities. The message of The Giving Tree is just super. My mom can’t read the book without crying everytime the tree gives the boy something 🙂 I love the video story narrated by Mr. Sliverstein!

    • Loni Edwards 16/03/2012

      Hi Erik, that is so sweet about your Mom. 😀 I’m glad you liked the links and the video. I had never seen it before and LOVED it too!

  2. Stacy S. Jensen 16/03/2012

    I love this book. I wasn’t able to watch the movie as kiddo is sleeping nearby. I hope to return to watch them. Fun choice this week.

  3. Heather 16/03/2012

    I love this book (anything of Shel Silverstein’s is wonderful) but I could never read it to my kids. They all felt so bad for that patient, loving Giving Tree that one time each was all we had with this story! Great links this week, Loni.

    • Loni Edwards 16/03/2012

      Yes, I can see that.I’ve read a lot of the controversy surrounding this book. I think that is what I like about it. It opens the door for discussion which is a GREAT thing for books. Thanks for your comment Heather!

  4. Kirsten Larson 16/03/2012

    Anything by Shel Silverstein definitely makes a perfect picture book. This is one of my favorites.

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill 16/03/2012

    This book seems to be a favorite classic, so I’m surprised it hasn’t gone up before. I know it is highly valued by many. (I’m afraid I’m in the vast minority as someone who doesn’t like it – I always feel sorry for the tree, and feel like the boy takes advantage of her and never learns and never gives her anything back – not even love. But that’s just me :)) It is definitely a wonderful lesson about unconditional love. And I love all the resources you found! Thanks so much for adding it to our list 🙂

    • Loni Edwards 16/03/2012

      I think this is a great lesson in the flaws in some humans. We take and take from the earth and (some) give nothing back. Yes, it is sad, however I feel that in our ego-centric society that our children need to learn that there are consequences to what we do to the earth. That’s what I get from this book. Aas you research into corporate development in the Amazon and other places, you realize that we are indeed flawed. And something needs to change before it is too late. At least, that is what I got from the book 😀

      Thanks so much for your comment Susan 🙂 You got me thinking! Have a great weekend!

      • Loni 16/03/2012 — Post Author

        Interesting, I just spoke to my 16yo and this is the interpretation: “I see it as a lesson in don’t give and give and give and also don’t take, take, take, take. It’s a lesson in balance.”

        It’s interesting that everyone has different interpretations of this book. I love it!

  6. Joanna Marple 16/03/2012

    I love this book, too, Loni. Some people have a strong reaction to the message and see a focus on selfishness. I guess there are many ways to interpret it, which adds depth, for me. I think it is a story which provokes some deep reflection and conversation, which is awesome for a PPPF book!

    • Loni Edwards 16/03/2012

      I so agree Joanna! I love books that open the door to conversation. Our family so enjoys topics that are controversial. It makes for some fascinating debates and learning experiences. Kudos to Shel Silverstein for creating a book such as this!

  7. Amy Dixon 16/03/2012

    I remember reading this book as a kid, and not really understanding it. I know people who adore it, and people who actually despise it. For me, I love a book that ignites such strong emotion and depth of conversation, no matter which side you land on. So I say, well done, Shel Silverstein!

  8. Patricia Tilton 16/03/2012

    One of my very favorite books! This book has such a great message. Thanks for including the videos. Haven’t seen them before and I liked them.

  9. patientdreamer 16/03/2012

    I had heard of this book a few times. Certainly can be interpreted differently. I can see both Susanna and Loni’s view. I think Shel did what he set out to do….. Make us stop, think, look and discuss….. Thanks Loni!

  10. Eric Van Raepenbusch 16/03/2012

    This book is really special to me. I received my copy as a gift from colleagues. Throughout the book they wrote personal messages to me. I will always remember that. Every time I read it — I get a little emotional.

    Thanks for reviewing this book!

    • Loni Edwards 17/03/2012

      Eric, what a special memory! That was so nice of your colleagues! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  11. Vivian Kirkfield 16/03/2012

    This is a wonderful classic in children’s literature…thank you so much for bringing it to PPBF!
    The resources and activities you listed are awesome…a teacher could do an entire unit, just using this book and what you provided. 🙂

    • Loni Edwards 17/03/2012

      Thank you Vivian! Yes, I was surprised at how many resources there are for this book. I wish all books were so lucky! It’s awesome!

  12. Myra from GatheringBooks 17/03/2012

    Hi Loni, you have chosen a classic indeed. I am so glad to have been introduced to your site thru Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday meme. This remains one of my favorites. I usually read this alongside the Caldecott Medalist “A Tree is Nice” by Janice May Udry and pictures by Marc Simont. Seems like a timely book with The Lorax being shown now in the theatres. 🙂

    • Loni Edwards 17/03/2012

      Hi Myra!
      It’s a pleasure to meet you! Thanks for the recommend of “A Tree is Nice”. I will add it to my library list.

  13. Beth Stilborn 17/03/2012

    I think I read this book back in the 70s. I must read it again. Thank you!

  14. Penny Klostermann 23/03/2012

    I am just now getting to read last week’s PPBF list along with this week’s list. I will have a doubly long list for the library this week.

    Of course…this has to be on the list! Thanks for adding it.

© 2024 Loni Edwards

Theme by Anders Norén