I remember this story being read to me in the first grade. I, too felt, happy and sad after the story was read to me, but did not really understand it. However, 21 years later, this story resurfaces in my grad educational psyc class. The topic was morality and what are some children's stories that have a moral to them. We discussed The Giving Tree and understood its moral as it is better to give than to receive, and we shouldn't look for something back in return. We should also be more like the tree and practice the act of giving more. What spawned from that idea afterwards was amazing, because the issue of God came up and how He (like the tree) loves us unconditionally and continues to give and forgive while we take and take, but He (the tree) is always there to remind and encourage us to be giving as well.