Parents' Guide to

The Giving Tree

By Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Classic, sensitive parable about selflessness.

The Giving Tree Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 12 parent reviews

age 18+

Not for Children

This is not a children's book. I don't think the author ever intended it to be a children’s book. It deals with themes and ideas either beyond children's understanding or very disturbing to them. I remember reading it 35 years ago as a kindergartener and it was a scaring experience. I cried and couldn't understand why the man would abuse and kill the tree. Please stop reading this book to children.

This title has:

Too much violence
1 person found this helpful.
age 15+


This is probably the number one of my top-10 worst kids books ever written. It's about how an insensitive, masochist and selfish little boy's lack of empathy for a forever-giving tree ends up ruining her life and destroying her existence. The tree gives gifts of unconditional love and sacrifice and the boy just takes them, consuming them with no signs of gratitude, empathy or compassion. He takes advantage and manipulates the poor tree to keep giving to no end, sacrificing "herself" for the boy and being used by him with no second thoughts on the consequences of her sacrifice. This revolting cycle of unilateral giving and unilateral taking keeps escalating until the tree is reduced to a stump. Still, seeing the tree in that miserable state, the boy manages to use it once more! There is absolutely no connection between the characters throughout the story. Nothing there to teach a young kid either.

This title has:

Too much violence
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (12):
Kids say (13):

This fable's spare text and the expressive line drawings add to the beauty and solemnity of this story and focus its power. Author Shel Silverstein gives a thoughtful look at the cycle of life of the boy and challenges readers of all ages to think about how they sometimes take loved ones for granted. Many images will give readers an ache in their heart: the boy embracing the tree with his chubby arms, the adolescent leaning against the sheltering tree lost in thought. The tree, too, goes through stages: from leafy to ripe with fruit to branchless and, finally, to just a stump. Readers may find it truly moving or kind of sad. Little kids tend to find it a comforting model of unconditional love.

Book Details

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