Book Report on Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”

Read Summary

Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree” is a children’s book about a tree and a boy who share a loving relationship. The book is recommended for children aged 2-7 years old and is set in a forest or garden where the Giving Tree is located. The plot revolves around the tree giving the boy everything he asks for, even as he grows older and his needs change. The book’s theme is that the act of giving can only be genuine if it comes from the heart. The language, plot, and art used by the author and illustrator are plain and simple, yet the book manages to convey a dramatic, emotive, and sad mood in the end. The illustrations effectively support the story’s theme and message through their simplicity, which subtly draws out the book’s entire theme and message. Overall, the book’s unimposing nature and plain style make it a powerful and impactful read for both children and adults.”

Table of Content

1.      Genre of Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”: Children’s Literature – Fiction

2.      Recommended Age Group: 2-7 years old

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3.      Setting: Forest or garden where the Giving Tree is located

4.      Plot: A tree and a boy shares a loving relationship with the tree being very generous to the boy and the boy who just keeps on taking from the tree. Since childhood, the tree gives the boy all that he asks from apples to branches and such. As the boy grows older and his needs changes, the tree keeps on giving him what he needs and wants. The boy keeps on taking to the point that nothing is left from the tree except a stump since he has used her branches and trunk to create a house. However, the tree just keeps on altruistically loving the boy. The book ends with the boy growing into an old man and still the tree offers itself to boy so that he can sit down and rest on it for a while.

5.      Characters: The tree and the boy are the main characters

6.      Theme: The act of giving can only be really called the act of giving if it sincerely comes from the heart.

7.      Style: The language, plot and art used by the author and illustrator is plain, direct and simple and yet the whole message of the book has such a tremendous impact since it manages to give a dramatic, emotive and sad mood in the end.

How Effective are the Illustrations in Constructing Meaning in “The Giving Tree?”

            The fact that the book has been translated into many languages; has been reprinted countless of times; has been a subject of controversy and debate, and considering it is just a children’s book, says so much about the book itself. What makes the book very disturbing and moving at the same time is because it is unimposing—a plain title, very plain font, language usage and artwork that is reminiscent of a fourth grader who wants to impress his teacher in art class and yet delivers a message central to humanity’s nature of being selfish. The boy is selfish and the tree is selfless and though the boy can be seen as the bad character, this is not the case for he is merely exhibiting an attribute of humans which is being needy. The illustrations in the book help in keeping the innocence of the boy intact even if on a closer scrutiny, the boy’s selfishness is condemnable. Thus, even if the pictures are not that creative or colourful or magical compared to other children’s books, Silverstein’s illustrations provide an effective support to the story’s theme and message.

Since the language Silverstein used were simple, he could have at least used more creative and artistic drawings to go with the plot but the fact that he used child-like scrawls must mean something and must have had a point—a point which the reader should have unconsciously picked up in the beginning. Silverstein’s purpose in drawing simple illustrations (from the tree to the boy to that patch of red called an apple) is to give emphasis on the story’s plot—aside from making the boy keep his good image to the readers and protagonist role intact that is. Thus, the illustrations were effective because of its simplicity and it subtly supports the message of the book; yet it succeeds in the assistance of drawing out the book’s entire theme and message.

Works Cited

Silverstein, Shel. The Giving Tree. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1964. Print.

Cite this page

Book Report on Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”. (2017, Feb 14). Retrieved from

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