Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 68

Picture Book: The Giving Tree
Author & Illustrator: Shel Silverstein 
Summary: “Once there was a tree and she loved a little boy.” So begins the story of a lifelong relationship. At first the 2 friends delightfully play together, but as the boy grows, he is often absent, his desires change, and the tree sacrifices parts of herself so that he will be happy. But he doesn’t stay happy. Eventually the tree is just a stump, and the boy is an old man, once again satisfied with just her company. “And the tree was happy.”
Hanna’s Comments: This tender story of loving sacrifice was introduced to me at church camp as a teen. When asked about an example of a secular picture book with potential for ministry, this is usually the example I offer. All those years ago, I viewed this story as a metaphor for Jesus’ crucifixion. As a parent, this story seems all too familiar. Introduce the youth & children in your faith community to the power of Silverstein’s illustrations and storytelling. Then offer your own interpretations and listen to those of your audience.
Publisher & Date of Publication: Harper & Row, 1964                
Age and Grade Appropriateness:  6 and up, 1 and up
# of Pages: 64
Available in Spanish? Yes, and there is a Hebrew version
Formats other than Book: tablet, audio CD, videos on Youtube
PBT Category:  Classic
PBT Topics this Book Connects with: affection, bonds/connections, brokenness, care of creation, commitment, consumerism/consumption/riches, disabilities/handicaps/limitations, the environment/nature, flowers/leaves/trees, friends/friendship, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, gifts/giftedness/talents, God’s care/providence, God’s nature, growing up/growth, helping, hospitality, humanity, kindness, loneliness, love, manna, parents/parental love, perseverance, relationships, sacrifice, steadfastness, time/timing/over time, transformation, treasure, unity, victims
Scripture Connections: Christ died for us (Romans 5:8); the sacrificial willingness of Mary, mother of Jesus (Luke 1:38); present your bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2)
Idea(s) for Application: Use this book in a lesson on how relationships, particularly our relationship with God, offer life-long satisfaction in contrast to the short-term pleasures of consumerism.