kids books i loathe: the giving tree

kids books i loathe week is completed with a classic that everybody seems to love. everyone except for me, that is. in fact, i would have to say this is the book that sends me over the biggest cliff. i would never, ever advocate banning it. but jeez oh man, i hate this book with a passion.

i know, i know. the giving tree is a tender story that talks about loyalty and devotion. silverstein keeps it open-ended so that you and your child can have a conversation about being good to one another. selflessness. that sort of thing.

but you know what? i think a little too much selflessness is foisted onto parents, particularly mothers. and we are often the readers of this book, and we’re the ones who get the message thus strewn upon ourselves. i know plenty of mothers — myself included — who would put limb and life and liberty at risk simply to ensure the happiness and well-being of their child. now, this is good. and this is not so good.

you know. put the air mask on yourselves, people, before you put it on the children.

i have seen and been the woman who whittles herself down to the point where there is nearly nothing left for my partner, my kids, my world. what good are you to everyone if you’re a shell of your former self?

and that’s why i get so effing mad at this book. it sanctifies the effing tree. what an amazing, giving tree. it gives and gives until it can barely give anymore. and of course, no one appreciates it until its too late.

fuck that.

appreciate me now, while i am here to hear it. enjoy me now, while i can still join you in your laughter. don’t wait til i’m dead. don’t make me a martyr.

and pick a different book out for me to read to my kids for that matter.

The Giving Tree


7 Responses to “kids books i loathe: the giving tree”

  1. UGH, I can’t stand that book either. It’s confounding to me too that it’s so well-loved. Mostly because that spolied kid/adult/senior NEVER LEARNED ANY SORT OF LESSON! That tree gave until it died and that brat/a-hole jerk of a human being kept taking and taking, never thinking of how he was affecting his environment. I don’t think he ever learned to appreciate. EVER. GIVE BACK ALREADY!!!!

    (I’m so glad that I can get to comments today!)

  2. I have a copy of this book that is inscribed something like, “Dear Aunt Helga, I always thought you were like this tree. Love, Bradly.” No wonder I found it in a thrift store.

  3. bin-go!

    i’m so glad you can get to comments today, too 🙂

  4. kellyo,

    you rock my world 🙂

  5. OK, I have to agree, I loathe that book not only for the unbelievable sacrifices demanded of that tree (and never really acknowledged either) but also for the utter materialism and idiocy of the man (I want to go make money in the city?! I need to make money to find a wife?! Give me everything you have, tree, bz it is all about me!) who, as your PP already pointed out, never even realized that it was his idiotic choices that made him a broken, lonely man in the end. Literally sitting his a** on the tree. And she’s supposed to be all happy and content that she can serve his needs one last time. Yecchhhhh. Thanks for this hilarious series.

  6. notdancingqueen Says:

    One of your best, most thoughtful posts ever. And I totally agree with you. I received that book when A was a baby – I read it once and threw it out. Seriously. I have *never* thrown a book away before or since. I didn’t share it, recycle it, Bookcross it, give it away…I threw it straight in the trash. Where it belongs. Of course you don’t wait to give until you know it will be reciprocated. But neither do you give and give until you have nothing left to give – because then you and the recipients of your giving are both worse off.

    Love is like sourdough — if you feed it, it feeds you.

    (note to self: rethink plans to become a poet…)

  7. I’m late to the party, but I had to chime in to say that I also loathe The Giving Tree. What kind of whacked messages is it supposed to give to kids? Take all you can until you leave the ones who love you as nothing but battered stumps?

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