The Giving Tree | A Wolfe Stew Review


A cover of The Giving Tree with a bookcase to the side. Text overlay reads "A Wolfe Stew Book Review"
A classic tale, The Giving Tree will endear itself to you with its simple, heartfelt message. 

This Wolfe Stew Review includes:

  • Target Audience including Wolfe Stew, AR, Lexile, and Amazon recommendations.
  • Leader/Learner Descriptions - Notecard sized descriptions to display for learners or file for leaders.
  • A Look at the Art - A brief peek into the type of art you'll encounter.
  • Setting - Tells you where the story takes place.
  • Main Characters - Name and introduction to the book's featured characters.
  • Point of View - Identifies the point of view the author uses and how it affects the story.
  • Conflicts - Relates the main conflicts encountered in the book.
  • Themes - List of themes this book explores.
  • Our Favorites - Character, quote, and scene.
  • About the Author - Five fast facts.
  • Academic Tie-Ins - Cross-curricular activities for classroom use.
  • Websites to Explore - A list of websites related to the book or author.

    Target Audience

    If you have a heartbeat, this book is for you. While the text and illustrations are simple, the message is profound. Everyone will find their own meaning in it.

    • Wolfe Stew recommendations:
      • Read aloud to children ages 3 to 6 
      • Read independently for ages 7 to 10.
    • Accelerated Reader rates its:
      • Independent reading level at 2.6, or about halfway through second grade. 
      • Interest level at Kindergarten to Third grade.
    • Lexile rates it at 530L or middle of second to beginning of third.
    • Amazon customers suggest it is appropriate for ages 2+.

    Leader/Learner Descriptions

    Print these pictures. Then, display the "learner" card on a suggested reading bulletin board and paste the "leader" card in a folder to remind you of this book when you're planning a related lesson.

    A description for children of The Giving Tree with the book cover included.

    A short description of academic tie-ins for The Giving Tree. Includes book cover.

    Artwork Description

    Simply drawn black and white pen sketches keep the focus on the message.



    A singular tree.

    Main Characters

    1. Boy – requires varying needs throughout his life.
    2. Tree – solitary except when the boy visits.


    Point of View

    A third-person limited point of view shares the tree's feelings while keeping the boy's feelings hidden. Dialogue throughout narrates the interactions between the boy and the tree.


    • Man v. Nature: Is it acceptable to take from nature to get what I need, and to what extent? 
    • Man v. Self: What do I need and how do I obtain it?
    • Man v. Man: How much do I give and take in a relationship?


    Giving and Receiving 🎁 

    Relationships 👩‍👦 

    Change 📈


    Our Favorites


    We both prefer the tree, which to both of us, symbolizes Jesus. The tree, like Jesus, is easy to find, waiting and longing for our presence, and ready and willing to sacrifice Himself for our salvation.


    "Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest." And the boy did.


    *Asterisks alert you to potential spoilers.

    An old man sitting on the stump at the book's end.


    About the Author

    The FIVE FAST FACTS listed here give you an opportunity to connect with the author. Give your students the five quick phrases and ask them to predict how they might relate to the author. Then, separate the facts from the phrases and have learners match them. Alternatively, give learners only the descriptions and have them choose a short phrase (no more than five words) to summarize it. 

    1.  Hot dogs and baseball. Born in Chicago in 1930, Sheldon Allan Silverstein dreamed of playing baseball for the Cubs. The closest he came was selling hot dogs to fans in High School.
    2. Folk music. Silverstein composed folk music for movies, several of his own albums, and well-known performers like Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn.
    3. Cartoons. Silverstein, drafted for the Korean war in 1953, worked as a cartoonist for an army publication called Pacific Stars and Stripes. His cartoons were published daily. He continued drawing cartoons for magazines even after he left the military in 1955.
    4. A Light for a Girl. A Light in the Attic, published in 1981, was the first children's book to make the New York Times Best Seller list. It was dedicated to his daughter Shoshanna, or Shanna, who sadly died the following year. In 1984, Silverstein's son, Matthew was born.
    5. Imagination. Silverstein did not want to write for children. Yet, the imagination woven into each story, poem, and sketch inspires imagination in children of all ages. Many of his messages are intentionally open-ended. Silverstein wanted each reader to infer their own meaning and refused to define it for them.
    1. About shel. Shel Silverstein. (2021, June 10).
    2. Debczak, M. (2019, January 11). 7 surprising facts about the giving tree. Mental Floss.
    3. Meister, Cari. Shel Silverstein. Edina, ABDO Publishing Company, 2001.
    4. Petsko, E. (2019, March 19). 8 Facts About Shel Silverstein. Mental Floss.
    5. Ward, S. Meet Shel Silverstein. New York, The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2001

    Academic Activities

    1. Social Emotional Learning
      • Talk about relationships. Would you consider the relationship between the boy and the tree a healthy or unhealthy relationship? Why? What made it work? What could have made it better? Compare to real life or fictional relationships.
      • Emotion Comic Strip. Identify the emotion each character feels on every page. Use the named emotions to make a comic strip that features only these words.
      • Define love. The book tells us that the boy loved the tree, and the tree was happy. When was the tree happy? What is love? (Consider exploring the Christian definition found in I Corinthians 13 or John 15:13) How does the boy show love? (Good tie-in to love language discussion.) What causes happiness? What makes you happy? (What makes God happy?)
      • Giving and receiving. Start by making a t-chart to note details about giving and receiving. On each page, who did the giving and who did the receiving? What are some nonmaterial benefits we may receive that observers may not notice? Start by thinking of the tree, what nonmaterial benefit did the tree receive from the boy? Talk about manners in giving and receiving, including appropriate occasions for each.
    2. Economics
      • List or research resources that trees provide. 
      • Use the book to reinforce the concept of supply and demand.
    3. Science 
      • Compare the life cycle of trees and humans. How do needs differ as we age? As trees age?
      • Make a flip book (or two separate books) to show the aging process of trees and humans.

    Websites to Explore

    1. Shel Silverstein's Website (includes books, activities, and a biography)
    2. Silverstein's All Music Page (music related biography)

    Before You Go, We'd Love to Know:

    1. If you've read this book, what is your favorite activity to pair with it?
    2. If you have yet to read this book, what other book reminds you of this one?

    We're looking forward to reading your thoughts! Leave a comment below or email us at or

    At Your Service,
    Seasoning life with a Christian husband and wife.

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    Interested in reading more of our thoughts on things? Then you're looking for our Reviews page. This is where we share all our thoughts on things and look forward to hearing your thoughts on things too.


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