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Texas Center for the Book

Letters About Literature Essay Contest 2003
Level Two Winner
Vicky Ren
Labay Middle School, Houston

Dear Mr. Silverstein,

Throughout my fourteen years of life, I have reflected upon and felt a connection to very few books. One of these books, which has made the biggest impact on my life, is your well-known children's book, The Giving Tree.

I was first introduced to this book in fourth grade when my teacher read it to the class. At the beginning, I felt upbeat and cheerful as I envisioned the boy spending time with the tree, but I soon grew sad as the boy quickly became independent and continually 'took' from the Giving Tree. When my teacher finished reading the story, I felt disappointed and disgusted at the greedy boy for treating the loving Giving Tree in such an ungrateful manner. However, at ten-years-old, I was not yet fully acquainted with the idea of symbolism. I was enlightened, though, at my teacher's explanation that the Giving Tree symbolized a parent overflowing with everlasting love for his/her child.

With these new idea in mind, I compared the Giving Tree to my parents while I put myself in place of the boy. Thinking back over my life, I realized that, sure enough, my parents were exactly like the Giving Tree. When I was little, they provided me with Barbies to play with, books to read, and dresses to wear just as the tree supplied the boy with leaves to make crowns out of and branches to climb among. Now, I have reached adolescence, and my parents have become my confidential listeners to my dreams, my goals, and my innermost secrets. I know that the stages of womanhood and old age are yet to come, but I have a feeling tht I will live through them like the boy by going back to my pillar of love and strength with needs and wants.

Back in fourth grade, I asked myself questions like "What have I done lately to show how much I care about my parents? In the future, will I become as greedy as the boy? What can I do to prevent this from happening?" Still now, every once in a while, I find myself asking the same questions--just to keep myself in check. I make it my duty to tell and show my parents how much I love and appreciate them every day, and I promise myself that in the future, I will repay my parents with all of the devotion and comfort they have provided me throughout my life.

Because I value The Giving Tree and the moral it provides so much, I shared the story with my parents the day my fourth grade teacher read the book to my class. Now four years later, I still hold The Giving Tree close to my heart. In fact, whenever I go to the bookstore, I find it, and I read it, and it reminds me to give my parents an extra hug and kiss that day.

Thank you, Mr. Silverstein, for writing The Giving Tree. It has taught me a valuable life lesson, which I will never forget.


Vicky Ren

© The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. (Used by permission.)