In 1964, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, was published. In 1974, my mother gave me the gift if it.
The Giving Tree became my saving grace and my constant companion. The pages brought me hope; they taught me, and in many ways helped mold me into the person I’ve become. I need not open the book to tell the story; it was long ago ingrained within me. When my children were born I gave to them the very same gift my mother had given me and I’ve watched it become a part of them as well.
I wonder if Shel Silverstein knew when he penned those words just how important they really were. Was he merely writing a children’s story, to be read to sleepy little ones as they drifted off to dream or did he have a greater purpose? I think he did indeed have a much greater purpose in mind.
My children, now no longer children, still cherish the book as much as I do. They read it to me every now and again and my eyes never fail to fill with tears. The tale tucked safely between the covers of the book is a timeless masterpiece of humanity all should be blessed to read.
It is a story of selfless giving and sacrifice. It tells of youthful folly and selfish need, of acceptance and unconditional love. With simple style and unexpected grace, Shel Silverstein brings his story full circle and the moral resonates within the reader, stirring emotions and provoking thought.
Simple illustrations of black against white become colorful visions through the words they portray. I can see the grass and the green of the tree with bright red apples decorating the strong branches, lush with leaves and life. The renderings show such emotion, just sketches really, but they have life when you look upon them.
The Giving Tree is so much more than a children’s book. Readers of all ages would do well to learn the lessons so wonderfully written and shared. From the pages of this simple book I learned to look at the needs of others before taking what I wanted, even though they may have been given freely. I learned to give what I could; I learned to think of the future while living in the present. I learned to value friendship, I learned love was a two-way street and pure and precious love is forever.
This has always and will always be, one of my favorite pieces of literature. The pages may be few, but they hold infinite wisdom. They tell of change. They tell of lessons learned. They tell of growth. There is a beginning and an end, an end that is itself a new beginning of sorts. A moment of self-realization everyone must eventually face. The book ends with an epiphany of sorts, one some learn too late in life.
We should all be giving trees . . . Some of us are still full and vibrant, with much to give, some of us have given so much we fear we have nothing left to give. Ironically, what we still have is often the thing needed most by another.
Crystal R. Cook