Members in the Media
From: The New York Times

We Need to Talk About ‘The Giving Tree’

Like many new parents, when our first child was born, we were delighted to receive gift boxes of tiny pajama sets, monogrammed baby blankets, and lots and lots of children’s books. We received seven copies of “Goodnight Moon” alone. By the time our second and third children arrived, we were proud owners of multiple copies of “The Giving Tree.” The Shel Silverstein book is a classic, and we were excited to share it with our kids — we thought it would be like revisiting an old friend from our own childhoods. But when we read it, something felt wrong.

Read the whole story (subscription may be required): The New York Times

More of our Members in the Media >


Our daugther at 3 and 1 half brought this book with her from her first adoptive home. I rarely have strong feelings about books: I hated this book from the start. It seemed to suggest that one gives and gives and gives. As a woman I did not feel I needed such advice. I am a psychologist who as a professor and a mother and a wife and a sister and an in-law gave and gave and gave. I still am giving and I’m OK with that but let’s not be rubbing it in! Thanks for the chance to comment on this book.

Thank you for writing this article. As a child therapist and mother of a young child, your perspective is similar to mine. I think The Giving Tree provides us with the opportunity to have important conversations and the lessons that this book offers to children has been lost and reduced by both sides (those touting the virtues of selflessness and those who have condemned the book because they believe the book is sending the wrong message). A more nuanced and complicated interpretation of this book is the modern day cautionary tale you describe. This book has allowed me to teach and explore topics such as boundaries, self care, and healthy relationships (and lack thereof) to children through the use of imagery and symbolism. it’s important for us to look for the interpretations that teach us something rather than expecting the book itself to tell us exactly what the lesson is. The ambiguity of how this book is written is what makes it so special to some and unsettling to others.

APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.