The Giving Tree

There is a tree on the playground that is old and big.  Its branches dip down.  Each one seems to have a mind of its own.  The boughs sway and reach, and children look up.

I wonder if the tree loves the children.  The children love the tree.

Trees are one of nature’s greatest teachers and also givers.

Yes.  Givers.

Shel Silverstein made that connection with trees decades ago.  His book, The Giving Tree is both beloved and revered.

My copy is well loved and well worn.  I have read the words aloud to children (and to myself) more times than I can count.

Thank you, Dana, for giving me this book.  You knew it was a treasure.

The story is timeless.  A tree loves a boy, and the boy loves the tree.  The beginning pages read:

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.

Those words set the stage for the story.  I have only shown you a few of the illustrations.  Every line in the book has an illustration.  Yes, and each one is just as simple and powerful. The tree keeps giving as the boy grows up… well, you need to read the book.  While it’s a children’s book, it pierces the heart of adults.  It reminds them of all that matters, all that made them feel good.

Everyone needs to read this book.

The trees all around as I drive and walk seem to have low, bowing branches, much like the tree at school.  Everywhere I look, trees are reaching down… or reaching out, like The Giving Tree.

I am continuing my reading aloud to Miles as he recovers from his brain injury this summer.  I posted his story August 24th, “Reading Aloud to the Rescue.”  This week, the tree in his front yard had the same branches.  How could that be?  I asked Miles and his sister to stand by the branch so I could snap a picture.

Your greatness is not what you have, but what you give.  –Winnie the Pooh-


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Inspiration, Kindness, picture books, reading, reading aloud, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

104 Responses to The Giving Tree

  1. Opher says:

    I so love trees. So beautiful.

  2. Ritu says:

    So touching 🙏🏽💜

  3. L. Marie says:

    What a lovely post, Jennie! Trees are so lovely. My balcony overlooks several trees. They’re now gently shedding their leaves.

    Love the quote from Winnie the Pooh!

  4. Carla says:

    One of my absolutely favourite books. Mine is literally falling apart it has been so often read and loved. Great share, Jennie.

  5. quiall says:

    In this time of social distancing, the trees are reaching out to hug anyone who needs one.

  6. It sounds like a lovely book, Jennie. Oh yes, I’m certain your playground tree loves the children. It radiates love. Hugs on the wing!

  7. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for this wonderful post about this truly excellent book!

  8. Suls says:

    Jennie, Lovely !!!

  9. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another excellent post from Jennie, the wonderful teacher!

  10. Darlene says:

    That Winnie the Pooh quote is right on!! A guest author on my blog recently said of all the characters in books he would prefer to spend time with Winnie the Pooh or Paddington. I just loved that answer. The Giving Tree is a special book. I´m so glad Miles is recovering. xo

    • Jennie says:

      That is a great answer from your guest author! Yes, this is a very special book. I’m reading it aloud on my blog tomorrow morning. Miles’ recovery is a good sign!

  11. one of the best books that shows unconditional love. nature is so important in our lives, but often times taken for granted and disregarded. we need to see that unconditional love as what it is… a beautiful gift.

    Have you read the story the Forever Tree by Donna Lukas and Tereasa Surratt. It is a fictional story based on a real elm tree in Wisconsin that found a new purpose after it was infected by Dutch Elm Disease… another unconditional love of trees book

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, it is! And I do know the Forever Tree. The fact that it’s based on a real elm tree is powerful. Dutch Elm disease hit my area pretty hard. There are many wonderful tree books – thank goodness!

  12. The Giving Tree came well after my own childhood…the tale of Johnny Appleseed being the arboreal influence in my life. Just for fun in my twenties I planted an acorn… and it grew until I had to plant it…and it grew some more… and it still grows today in St Petersburg Florida…From the internet pictures, it is HUGE! And it is my legacy, my first child! 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      KC, what a wonderful story! How many people can say they planted an acorn that grew into a huge tree and still continues to grow? You’re the only person I know. 🙂 The Giving Tree was long after my childhood as well, but thank goodness I read it to my children, and often read it to my preschoolers.

  13. beetleypete says:

    I haven’t read the book, but feel I have channeled its spirit. I have loved trees all my life.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, you definitely have channeled it’s spirit. John Howell (I hope you follow his blog, Ollie needs to meet Lucy and Twiggy) was disappointed that I didn’t read the book aloud. So, I will post that in the morning. Then you will really know the book. Best to you, Pete.

  14. The Giving Tree is one of my favorites! The Winnie quote says it all… ❤ xo

  15. The giving tree that only gives and never asks anything from the boy because the tree loved the boy so much and that is nature that only gives and gives whatever we humans want. Such a lovely post, Jennie.

  16. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    Jennie Fitzkee shares a much loved Children’s book that carries a powerful message…Trees are wonderful and this book is beautifully illustrated and would delight any child and adult..

  17. What a lovely book Jennie and trees are very special so pleased Miles is recovering and fabulous photograph..♥

  18. A lovely story, Jennie. I am glad you are able to read to this young boy.

  19. I love trees! I had a favorite redwood tree that I would climb almost daily when I was a girl. Oh, the dreams I shared with that tree…and the hours of pretending I played up the tippy top of its branches! Mostly, I loved the solitude and the smells, of the needles, and bark, and space to think, and the view was pretty great too. When my parents bought a bigger house across town and we had to move I was so crushed to leave that tree. Driving by it as an adult and see it still standing tall always made me smile. I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again since I’ve moved out of that state, but it lives in my memories.

    Winnie the Pooh has so many great quotes and wise words. 😀

    • Jennie says:

      What a great story and tribute to a tree. I think this needs to be a blog post, Deborah. Do you have photos of that tree? Isn’t it wonderful how a tree can become a huge part of love for children? You describe your memories beautifully. Thank you! And yes, Winnie the Pooh is the wise one. Best to you, Deborah.

  20. I love Shel Silverstein’s writing, but I have to go out on a limb (sorry for the dreadful pun), and admit this was always my least favorite work by him, even as a child.

  21. Great book and a beautiful message about giving.

  22. dgkaye says:

    Thanks for the introduction to this beautiful book Jennie ❤

  23. This book is a treasure. Our copy is on it’s second generation. A great post, Jennie.

  24. Darn. I settled in and thought you were going to read the whole book. Yes, I read it but would like to again. Our copy was destroyed in a flood. Thanks, Jennie. Super post.

  25. That’s a great book.

  26. Dan Antion says:

    This a wonderful post, Jennie – great book.

  27. l’m hoping Miles is recovered from his injury. It’s a great book and should be in every child’s library. Trees give us so much including our life. Without them, we could not exist. So sweet you have another copy to keep sharing with more children as I know you will always keep sharing. 😉

  28. I’m glad to see that Miles is recovering well from his injury. I watched a video of The Giving Tree a while back. It was very moving.

  29. petespringerauthor says:

    The Ging Tree is one of my favorites, too. I like just about everything from Shel Silverstein. I looked back to Aug. 24th because I didn’t remember reading about Miles. This old memory serves me better than others for some days. That is a marvelous picture of Miles and his sister.

    • Jennie says:

      I know what you mean about the old memory. Sometimes I wonder where mine is hiding. Miles is recovering, yet he has a long road ahead. Our weekly visits to read aloud are simply wonderful. Yes, everything Shel Silverstein is terrific! Thank you, Pete.

  30. petespringerauthor says:


  31. TanGental says:

    How perfectly timed as I’m about to post on my love of trees (and maths as it happens)

  32. Thank you for introducing another great book, Jennie! Sally had informed me, and this book is wonderful too.Lets hug a tree. 😉 Michael

  33. Such a treasure of Book Jennie, and you are such a treasure as teacher… And Miles has you as such a treasure in his healing process…. You are a divine Light that shines love into the hearts of children.. No greater gift of giving could you yourself offer dear Jennie…
    For you are a Tree to many of these children… You are strong, give strength, you nourish their minds, and you feed their souls… You dear Jennie are one of Earths most Blessed Angels….
    And it is my privilege to know you…
    Stay Blessed dear friend. and Thank YOU for your gifts you always give so freely.. ❤ ❤ ❤

  34. Elizabeth says:

    I missed the earlier mention of Miles and his injury. I am glad he is mending, albeit slowly. My grandson is a tree climber as is my husband. It scares me to death, but they assure me it is part of being a boy.

  35. a favorite book of mine. I still cry when I read it. That quote lifts me. Thank you

  36. srbottch says:

    Trees are wonderful. Every year for Birthdays, my wife gave our two kids a tree planted in their name, as a donation to the Arbor Day Society. So, somewhere, there are trees of various maturities, growing and aging with our kids. Wonderful post, Jennie.

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