The Giving Tree – Animated Children’s Book

This is my favorite children’s book.  I remember reading it over and over during free reading time in school.  I loved it so much, it was one of the first books I added to my personal library when I decided to become a teacher.  It is one of the first books I reach for when trying to find a gift for a child.  This book has had such a big impact on my life, I take every opportunity I can to share it.  This video is a lovely reading of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  It also uses the original simple line drawings to animate the story.  Below, you will find some questions to facilitate a discussion with your class and the text of the story.

Giving and Altruism

In the story, the tree gives until she has nothing left to give and it seems the boy never gives anything.  Do you think the boy is selfish, how so?  What is a word we can use to describe someone that gives without thinking about themselves or expecting something in return?  Why, after giving the boy her trunk, is the tree not happy?

The Nature of Giving and Gifts

Have you ever given someone something, and later had a change of heart? How did that feel? What did you do?  Is it easier to give away something if the receiver is really thankful?  Do you ever give a gift and expect something in return?  What about thank you? When someone gives you a gift, do you feel like you have to give them something back? If you needed something, but someone you loved needed it too, would you give it to them or keep it for yourself?

The Nature of Love

From the very beginning of the story, we know the tree gives all that she can because she loves the boy. Love is a powerful thing.  Do you think the boy loved the tree in the beginning of the story? Why or why not?  Are the boy’s love and the tree’s love the same? Do we need a reason to love? When you love someone, do you treat them differently than people you barely know? Why do you think that is?  How do you show someone you love them? Have you ever been angry with someone you love because they went away for a while or because they did something you didn’t like?  Can you be angry with someone and love them at the same time?


Is the boy happy at the end of the story?  What about the tree?  Would you be happy if you were the tree, why? Have you ever done something just to make someone else happy?  How did that make you feel? Do you need other people to be happy? Do you need a reason to be happy?  Can you be happy all the time?

Once there was a tree….
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired,
he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree….
very much.
And the tree was happy.
But time went by.
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree
and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and
climb up my trunk and swing from my
branches and eat apples and play in my
shade and be happy.”
“I am too big to climb and play” said
the boy.
“I want to buy things and have fun.
I want some money?”
“I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I
have no money.
I have only leaves and apples.
Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in
the city. Then you will have money and
you will be happy.”
And so the boy climbed up the
tree and gathered her apples
and carried them away.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time….
and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back
and the tree shook with joy
and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk
and swing from my branches and be happy.”
“I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy.
“I want a house to keep me warm,” he said.
“I want a wife and I want children,
and so I need a house.
Can you give me a house ?”
” I have no house,” said the tree.
“The forest is my house,
but you may cut off
my branches and build a
house. Then you will be happy.”
And so the boy cut off her branches
and carried them away
to build his house.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time.
And when he came back,
the tree was so happy
she could hardly speak.
“Come, Boy,” she whispered,
“come and play.”
“I am too old and sad to play,”
said the boy.
“I want a boat that will
take me far away from here.
Can you give me a boat?”
“Cut down my trunk
and make a boat,” said the tree.
“Then you can sail away…
and be happy.”
And so the boy cut down her trunk
and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy
… but not really.
And after a long time
the boy came back again.
“I am sorry, Boy,”
said the tree,” but I have nothing
left to give you –
My apples are gone.”
“My teeth are too weak
for apples,” said the boy.
“My branches are gone,”
said the tree. ” You
cannot swing on them – “
“I am too old to swing
on branches,” said the boy.
“My trunk is gone, ” said the tree.
“You cannot climb – “
“I am too tired to climb” said the boy.
“I am sorry,” sighed the tree.
“I wish that I could give you something….
but I have nothing left.
I am just an old stump.
I am sorry….”
“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy.
“just a quiet place to sit and rest.
I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree, straightening
herself up as much as she could,
“well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting
Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

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