100 Scope Notes
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100 Scope Notes Burning Question of the Day (#1)

Burning Question

I have questions, you have the answers. Let’s solve some of children’s literature most vexing questions with the 100 Scope Notes Burning Question of the Day.

Forget children’s literature, The Giving Tree is one of the most divisive works of literature, period. Search your feelings, then please answer the question below.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Penni Davis says:

    The Giving Tree is one of the most loved books I have read to my kids. Compassion, nuturing, friendship, are themes that need to be discussed with children, especially in this age of greed and Trumpism! I will continue to read it!

  2. david elzey says:

    THE GIVING TREE is a subversive Rorschach test. is it a story of unconditional love, or a cautionary tale of thoughtless children taking from their parents until the very end when they come to appreciate all they’ve done for them? Silverstein likely knew this tale was a glass filled at the halfway mark for people to interpret and chuckled all the way to the bank.

  3. My feelings toward it USED to be positive. In college, I gave a copy to my then-boyfriend. Let’s just say that 20 years later after he’d had an affair and left me, I had a very different take on it. In fact, after I moved into an apartment with a fireplace, I had a ceremonial burning of the copy of The Giving Tree I’d given to him. (He left it behind.) That was before the court case finished. He didn’t get all my apples.

    • I should add: That was the ONLY time in my life I’ve burned a book. My goodness, it felt good!

      • And now I’m giggling about how this was the “Burning” question of the day! I bet you didn’t know how appropriate that is for me!

  4. Joseph Miller says:

    Accidentally voted negative (who makes the first choice negative!? Pessimistic bias! ;), but mostly I’d say I have positive feelings toward the book, but those feelings are mainly nostalgia. I might have a different opinion if I picked the book up now.

  5. Rats! I meant to click negative and clicked positive instead.

    This book always made me incredibly sad. I did not read it to my children, nor do I recommend it to others.

  6. It is an ode to co-dependency. The child takes and takes and takes until the tree is dead!

  7. I wonder if women and people who identify as feminists have negative takes on this more than men and people who don’t identify as feminists.
    The book surely jangles my feminist sensibilities!

  8. It is a classic and I love Shel Silverstein, but this book is so depressing, I am often baffled when people say how much they love the heart warming story. I think perhaps they only read it as children, when we are young and innocent and they idea of someone giving all they have to give and getting nothing in return fits within the me centric world most children exist in.

  9. Joanne Rubenstein says:

    Put me in the hate camp. I love giving to my children, at home and at school, but I plan to be a big strong tree when mine grow up and I retire.