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The Giving Tree with CD Hardcover – February 18, 2014
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To say that this particular apple tree is a "giving tree" is an understatement. In Shel Silverstein's popular tale of few words and simple line drawings, a tree starts out as a leafy playground, shade provider, and apple bearer for a rambunctious little boy. Making the boy happy makes the tree happy, but with time it becomes more challenging for the generous tree to meet his needs. When he asks for money, she suggests that he sell her apples. When he asks for a house, she offers her branches for lumber. When the boy is old, too old and sad to play in the tree, he asks the tree for a boat. She suggests that he cut her down to a stump so he can craft a boat out of her trunk. He unthinkingly does it. At this point in the story, the double-page spread shows a pathetic solitary stump, poignantly cut down to the heart the boy once carved into the tree as a child that said "M.E. + T." "And then the tree was happy... but not really." When there's nothing left of her, the boy returns again as an old man, needing a quiet place to sit and rest. The stump offers up her services, and he sits on it. "And the tree was happy." While the message of this book is unclear (Take and take and take? Give and give and give? Complete self-sacrifice is good? Complete self-sacrifice is infinitely sad?), Silverstein has perhaps deliberately left the book open to interpretation. (All ages) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
“If you’re looking for a children’s book that teaches generosity or unselfishness, most people will point you right to The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein’s lovely story of a tree that will do anything for the boy it loves—and for good reason. This classic is always a good place to start.” (Brightly.com)
Top Customer Reviews
I fell in love with this book the first time it was read to me, and my feelings have never changed. As I child I knew it was a sad book, but I didn't know why. Now that I am an adult, I can understand the cost of unconditional love and I know why the tree was sad. The fact that this book inspires so much debate is a testament to the power of Shel Silverstein's writing. There is a lesson in this book and a powerful message. For me, the key point is that in the end, the love the tree had for the boy was vindicated by his return- older, wiser, and more appreciative. My mother bought me this book when I was young because she thought it had a poignant lesson to teach. My mother tells me that the tree is every mother, and that the sadness felt by the tree is the sadness every mother feels when her child grows up and grows apart. She says every mother's hope is that her child will return someday, wanting nothing more than to to sit together in silence and to be happy. Anyone who has ever loved someone enough to let them go will understand the painful choice highlighted in The Giving Tree.
I love this book and I give it to special people in my life to celebrate our friendship. I higly recommend this book to adult and child alike.
The first: This is a beautiful and sad story of unconditional love between a tree and a boy, in which the tree is generous and gives of itself to help the boy whenever he is in trouble. The metaphor in this case is that of a mother and a child, or God and a human.
The second: This is a story of a very selfish boy and a tree who loves him. Whenever he is in trouble, he returns to the tree who gives him another part of her self without ever setting limits, even though it makes her sad (and physically damages her) to do so. In this case, you can compare the story to a metaphor of an abusive, codependent relationship.
I can understand both views of this story, but the fact that the second interpretation is just as valid as the first makes me hesitate to recommend this book. Personally, I would NOT buy this book as a gift, or for my own children. If I had this book, I would wait to read it to my children until they reach the recommended 10 years old (or at least 8), and then I would discuss the book and its concepts (selfishness, limit setting/saying NO) with them. "What did you think of this book?" "Do you think that the tree/the boy did the right thing?" "What would you have done differently if you were the tree/the boy?" "If you were the tree, would you have said 'NO' to the boy at any point?"
A story that may be complementary to this one and more appropriate for younger audiences is "Ladies First", also by Shel Silverstein (found in "A Light in the Attic" or "Free to Be, You and Me"), which is about a girl who always gets to be first to do everything, but in the end that is not to her advantage.Read more ›
As with most of his work, what makes it funny or appealing is his ability to write about humans at their most vulnerable or disillusioned states (poems like "The Land of Happy," "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout," "Jumping Rope" come to mind), and kids love that raw edge to him. The Giving Tree, however, is surprisingly subversive. It looks purely sweet at first, seeming to be about a love between a tree and a boy, and the beauty of doing anything for someone you love.
But it is TRAGIC. The tree ends up with nothing (she's a stump for him to eventually sit on), and the boy ends up an unhappy and lonely old man who has exploited (devestated) something he once loved.
Now, thirty years after my first reading of it, I'm not sure where I stand. This book was meaningful to me as a child--there was complexity in it, in giving and taking and paying consequences (and the pictures evoked great emotion). On the other hand, an obvious and simple message it could send is that it is good to give (and to take) at all cost.
In the end, I don't think the book should be avoided, by any means, because of its seemingly "selfless" message, but I do think it should be discussed (even in simple terms with the smallest child) as an eye-opening rendering of the danger of giving too much and losing yourself in the process.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A classic story of greed. Just kidding, but not really. A good lesson for children though, in a fun little story that will entertain and stick with them (hopefully).Published 1 day ago by Tina C.
It is only a tree, but it is a wonderful depiction of a friend laying down his life for another. I read this for the first time as an adult, in the store, and I cried. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Pen Name
We must stop and consider how our actions affect the ones we love. "The Giving Tree" teaches this lesson without clogging our minds with muck. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Just Renita
One of my favorite books. Great gift to children. Such a wonderful message about love. Highly recommend!Published 2 days ago by m.rabe
This is a wonderful book. It is the perfect book for anyone at any age. We recently gave it to our mother for her 90th. birthday. Read morePublished 4 days ago by David S.
This should be a staple in any child's library, it's a story that can make children think. After reading it our four year old said it was sad, but our seven year old looked from a... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Marc Baker