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The Giving Tree

My six year old daughter, Piper, invited our entire family into her bedroom this evening for what she called a ‘book club’. We were given strict instruction to choose a book from her book shelf and in turn, read it aloud to share with the family.  I eyed across the book shelf and came across The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. We’ve had a copy of this book in our family since our first child was born 8 years ago and it is truly one of my all time favorites.

When my turn came I was happy to wander through this loving tale again. It has been a few years since I’ve read it and it never ceases to inspire me. When book club ended, I came in and Googled the Giving Tree. I was happy to see so many hits and references on it and decided that I’d share it with you here. I think Shel Silverstein would be alright with me sharing it with you.

If you’ve never heard this story before you’re in for a treat. You may want to grab a box of tissue and allow yourself a few minutes at the end to sit and reflect on some things.  As an artist who works with wood more than any other medium, I can appreciate this on so many levels. I won’t go into my own interpretations or opinions but can say that this story puts me in a good place and makes me grateful for all that I have. I think we can all learn something from the tree.

With that, here is Shel Silerstein’s masterpiece- The Giving Tree.




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.
He would climb up her trunk
And swing from her branches
And eat apples
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree… very much…
And the tree was happy.





But time went by,
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then, one day, the boy came to the tree and the tree said:
”Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy!”
”I am too big to climb and play” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money.
Can you give me some money?”
”I’m sorry”, said the tree,”but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you’ll be happy.”
And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away.
And the tree was happy…

But the boy stayed away for a long time… and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back, and the tree shook with joy, and she said:
”Come, Boy come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.”
”I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm”, he said. “I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?”
”I have no house”, said the tree. “The forest is my house”, said the tree. “But you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy”.
And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time…
And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak.
”Come, Boy” she whispered, “Come and play”.
”I am too old and sad to play”, said the boy. “I want a boat that will take me away from here. Can you give me a boat?”
”Cut down my trunk and make a boat”, said the tree. “Then you can sail away… and be happy”.
And so the boy cut down her trunk
And made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy…
But not really.

And after a long time the boy came back again.
”I am sorry, Boy”, said the tree, “but I have nothing left to give you.-My apples are gone”.
”My teeth are too weak for apples”, said the boy.
”My branches are gone”, said the tree. “You cannot swing on them”.
”I am too old to swing on branches”, said the boy.
”My trunk is gone”, said the tree. “You cannot climb”.
”I am too tired to climb”, said the boy.
”I am sorry” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry…”
”I don’t need very much now”, said the boy. “Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired”.
”Well”, said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down… sit down and rest”.
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy…the end.



  1. Posted by Steve Jones on Oct 2nd, 2012

    I haven’t read that in years. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Posted by David Gendron on Oct 2nd, 2012

    My first time… Love it! Thank youTom!

  3. Posted by Rory Moulton on Oct 3rd, 2012

    I will be so sad when my little boy outgrows this book. It’s one of our favorites, along with The Relatives Came and When I Was a Boy I Dreamed. I pre-ordered Lost Art Press’s Grandpa’s Workshop – we’re looking forward to it.

  4. Posted by VAslan on Oct 3rd, 2012

    I’ve often thought that little boy needed to learn some gratitude.

  5. Posted by tom on Oct 3rd, 2012

    thanks for that comment- I’ve been waiting for someone to mention it from that side~; )
    As a parent it’s easy to ‘be’ the tree and to understand the feeling of absolute giving. On the other hand, I think the boy may represent society as a whole and how easily we forget the things we have and to remember to be grateful for all we have and do. These issues and ideas are often raised about the story and I think they’re what make it so special. I’m not sure what the author meant exactly but I enjoy the kinds of emotion and questions that spring up when it’s read.
    Thanks to all who commented-

  6. Posted by James on Oct 3rd, 2012

    Wow, FANTASTIC!!! Love your music, woodworking and videos. My wife or I read to our son every night until he could read for himself. Now, the three of us lie in bed and read together……….It’s something I look forward to every day. Mr. Silerstein’s book always left quit an impression, especially his picture. Thanks again for sharing and maybe someday we could put together that boat building class we talked about some years ago?

  7. Posted by tom on Oct 4th, 2012

    Thanks James-
    Boat building eh?
    I think I’ll need a bigger shop!
    Cheers~; )

  8. Posted by John A Thomas on Oct 14th, 2012

    Thanks for posting! I read this to my 7 year old daughter Rachel for reading homework. Plus a valued learning opportunity conversation afterwards!

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