I had mentioned in a prior post that I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter, StrawberryGirl, had to recite a poem, using props to act it out. She chose a wonderful poem by Shel Silverstein. This particular author has written many poems, but he also wrote a somewhat controversial picture book which you may be familiar with.
This particular book is one that is not for young readers. As a matter of fact, I would say that it applies mainly to teenagers and adults. Why? Well, it's not that there are too many complex words, but the message behind the book is complex, and can leave young readers sad and confused. It's one of those books that, as a parent, you have to decide when the right time is to introduce it. I would generally say that this children's book is not really for children under the age of about 9 or 10.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, some great children's books were included in The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur's Best Entrepreneur Books That You Never Expected. While you'll find my adult book recommendation at number 11 on the list, you'll also find Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree at number 54.
For those of you who are not already familiar with this truly unique picture book, it's the story of a relationship between a boy and a tree. The boy keeps visiting the tree (throughout his life), and the tree gives him something each time. The tree keeps giving, giving, giving, and the boy keeps taking, taking, taking. In the end, you can imagine what is left of the tree.
What I love about The Giving Tree is that it's about so much more than just the relationship between a boy and a tree. Any given person can interpret this story in any number of ways. One person might think the tree represents a parent who makes great sacrifices and loves unconditionally. Another person might think the whole story is about a relationship which has gone terribly wrong, to the point of being abusive. Still another might think it's simply about giving and taking, and how the two are not often in balance.
We've all witnessed people "taking" a lot more than they give. We're all so busy that we sometimes forget the many simple ways there are for us to give back. "Giving" could be as simple as showing gratitude and respect. You don't have to have a lot of time or money to do so; a simple smile, thank you, or picking up of your own trash will often do.
This book is so appropriate for every teenager and adult, whether they want to become entrepreneurs or not, because it's important (now more than ever) to find ways to give something back to society. Whether we interpret this book as a call to respect people or the environment, The Giving Tree is a call to action for all of us.
So, while many people may finish this book with a sad feeling, The Giving Tree leaves me with a sense of optimism and hope. We can all find ways to give a little bit more and take a little bit less. It's never too late to become positive role models to our children and to the rest of the world.
Even though this picture book is not for younger readers, children of any age can discuss the importance of balancing "giving" and "taking." Think about what an interesting dinner conversation you could have with family members of every age!
If you're not already familiar with The Giving Tree, I think you'll find that it will give you a lot to think about. Feel free to share your interpretation of this unforgettable children's book!