For any of you who don't know Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, you should definitely check it out. It's one of those stories that I only learned as a teacher and over the past ten years or so, it has become one of my favorite books. At the start, it appears as if it's a children's book, and by many accounts, it is, but the story teaches a lesson in giving that everyone, at any age, can relate to. In fact I read it to my high school students just today.
I first learned of The Giving Tree back when I was teaching elementary school. I had been stuck without time to prepare for my lesson one day and I went to my friend Charle, a third grade teacher, for ideas. She handed me the book and told me to read it to the children and have them do a writing assignment where they would talk about giving.
I'd never heard of the book before, but I trusted my friend, a 20-plus year teacher. I went and picked up my kids from their classroom and sat them all down on the floor around me. I read the book for the first time as I read it to them and I cried. Right there in front of my 2nd and 3rd graders. The selflessness of that tree is still one of the most beautiful things I've ever learned, and I've been sharing it with my students, young and old, ever since.
Whenever I read The Giving Tree to my students, the room always falls silent with attentiveness. That's the way it is written. And I still tear up a little bit every time, getting choked up by the tree's generosity. I usually follow up on a reading by asking my students to put in a journal the answer to this question:
If you could give anything to anybody, just one thing,
what would you give and who would you give it to?
I normally do this activity during the Thanksgiving season, It is my favorite holiday because it's all about giving thanks and showing appreciation, and not with all the have-to's that come with that other holiday. So in that spirit, and in a spirit that I try to share each year at this time, I will be posting a different sort of thanks in the coming two weeks. I have a great many people in my life that bring me joy, people who give me so much and may not even realize it, and all I want to do is let them know that I'm better off in this world having known them.
So stay tuned for that, and pick up a copy of The Giving Tree while you're at it. Click on the Amazon link at the bottom of this page and tell em John sent you. You'll be glad you did!