Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 43: The Giving Tree

I'm not usually aware of when it's Arbor Day, but today was one of those magical springtime days when all of a sudden, I look around and realize that pop!  All the leaves are suddenly out on the trees.  I just love that.  Quite fitting for Arbor Day, I think.  When thinking about what book to feature today, the first one that came to mind was the Giving Tree.  I'll be honest, though.  I wasn't sure whether to write about this book or not.  I remember my mom reading this to me as a child, and also remember that it sometimes would make her cry.  At the time, I think I liked it, but I until I saw it on the library shelf the other week, I couldn't recall much about the story itself.  As soon as I picked it up and read it again, though, it all came rushing back.  The innocent boy, playing in the tree's shade, who grows older and more self-absorbed as the book goes on.  The magnificent tree, who gives and gives and gives until she can give no more to her beloved boy.  Of course, I get teary when I read it now, too.  It's touching and tragic and moving all at once; a story about unconditional love, selfishness, and acceptance.  On the jacket cover, the book is said to be a "story of unforgettable perception;" a perfect descriptor, in my opinion.  There are so many ways one could interpret this book, and the many lessons to be learned vary greatly, I think.  It could be about human relationships, a parent's love for his child, a metaphor for how we treat our planet and environment, or simply a story of give and take.  I read this to my son the other day, and while he seemed to like it okay, I'm sure the overarching message of the story went right over his head.  I think he really was more amused by the simple illustrations than anything else.  In a way, though, I think I'm glad he didn't get what the story was really about.  I wouldn't want my three year old feeling the extreme sadness I feel when I read it.  It's a beautiful sadness, in many ways, but sadness, nonetheless.  Then again, maybe that is the beauty of Silverstein's work in this classic story.  Children and adults will read this book differently, and it will no doubt have a different meaning to people of different ages and experiences.  I do think this is truly a great children's book -- and a great book for adults, too -- but I don't necessarily think it is the perfect book for young children. I'll read it again to my kids someday down the road, for sure.  In the meantime, I'll keep doing my best to ensure that they always feel my unconditional love.


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