Favorite books: The Giving Tree

January 2, 2020

During the month of January this year, I am going to share with you some of my favorite books and why I love them.  I don't have a fully formed list yet, but most likely, these books are going to be children's books.  Why? Because I love a well-formed tale with a lesson, and nothing beats a beautifully illustrated book.  When I was teaching, I regularly used children's books to illustrate a point or highlight a particular concept I wanted to really stick.  


So, story time.  


The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein



Now I know, there are a lot of negative opinions about this book.  Environmentalists hate that the tree is cut down; the boy is selfish, self-involved, and narcissistic; co-dependency; etc. 


Let me tell you why I love this book: it illustrates the pure joy of giving.  And the gift doesn't have to be a physical thing; it can just be the presence of another (loved one).  The tree embraces selfless love and unquestioning generosity ... just like a parent, just like a friend.  I'm not suggesting that self-sacrifice (as the tree exemplifies) is necessarily a good thing, nor a sustainable thing.  Clearly, this is a children's story, and in that sense, perhaps things are a bit exaggerated.  But.  Selfless generosity is a rare and beautiful quality, right?


We humans spend a lot of energy (and money, frankly) pursuing happiness.  What if happiness came from just being and enjoying?  What if happiness came from the joy of being with a friend?  What if we found the happiness in our own hearts?  Stuff and having more stuff does not make us happy; it just gives us cluttered cupboards.  


I hope you have a tree in your life.  

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