Though children’s books can be simple in context, the messages they leave behind are often times quite powerful. When we read them as children, they usually have no deeper meaning to us, because at that stage in our life our emotions have not blossomed. There are a few books, however, that resonate so deeply as we take a step into adulthood. In fact, the sheer truth that lies within them can prove to be quite depressing. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a pure example.
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The book follows a female apple tree and a boy, who develop a relationship with each other. The tree is very “giving” and the boy evolves from a naive kid who merely wants to play, into a “taking” teenager, man, then elderly man.
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Through each stage of the boy’s life, he takes more and more from the tree to support his life, from her branches, to her apples, and finally her trunk. Throughout each stage she remains happy, despite losing so much, because she is sacrificing for the happiness of the boy.
This story is the embodiment of unconditional love. The tree was happy without her leaves, without her branches and even without her trunk. It did not matter what the boy did, as long as she could still give and make him happy, she would remain happy. His selfishness did not affect her, she was only made happy by her ability to provide him what he wanted or needed. Like a parent, the tree is happy to help in any way she can because she always sees him as her kid, or her “boy”.
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I actually believe that this story is more suitable for adults, who need to be reminded of greed and selfishness. It teaches us not to take anything for granted, and to be aware of everyone’s worth. It is a beautiful book that you absolutely need to revisit.
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