THE GIVING TREE has become a piece of classic modern children's literature. It is the story of a tree who gives everything she has to a little boy. At first the boy loves in return, but then he begins to take and take and give nothing in return, until finally after many years the tree is nothing more than a battered stump. The boy eventually returns to the tree and though he never acknowledges any selfish behavior the tree offers him what little she has left and the relationship between the two is restored.
I get teared up almost every time I read this story. To me, it seems to be a wonderful allegory about the nature of God's love and his relationship to humankind. God gives and gives and gives and we take and take and take, yet He loves us still, even though we are plotting our doom and will one day be brought low and destroyed for our transgressions. However, I also realize that there are several other ways of reading this books, too (there's the whole environmental take). Whatever way you read it, I find it amazing that the pot smoking Silverstein, who was known for using racy language, was also one of the foremost children's authors of the modern era and was able to write such a moving work. Knowing that, the effect of the story's moral is augmented.
Anyway. Some might think that the moral lesson in the giving tree isn't right for young children to know. I disagree. Life's not always fair and though there are many children who see the selfishness of the little boy, many fail to see the selfishness in themselves and therefore miss out on the book's main point. A wonderful, powerful, and moving children's story.