The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree is one of the best inspirational stories of giving unconditionally, and of unconditional love. It is also a controversial story that evokes varied responses from readers.

A small boy loves a big tree. They have great times together. But great times do not last forever. The boy grows up and develops other interests. He wants money. The tree tells him to take its (his? her?) apples and sell them. It does not end here. Eventually, the tree gives its all to the boy - the branches, the trunk - until all that's left is the stump. The boy (now a man) goes away for a long time but comes back one day, a broken man. There is only one thing he wants now - and the tree happily obliges.

Does the story teach kids to give generously? Or encourage them to be spoilt brats who feel the world (or their parents) owe them everything?

Whatever your response, one thing is certain: this is a beautiful, haunting story. And a good book to share with children: use it to kick off a discussion on selfishness, generosity, and when to say "no" - for example, when facing people with insatiable demands.

This also happens to be one of the best selling books of all time, with over 5.6 million copies sold worldwide.


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