University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Field of Philosophy: Ethics; Metaphysics

Plot Summary: A young boy plays with a tree and both are happy. As he grows up, he asks the tree for a variety of things he needs; the tree gives to him generously and without any expectation of return. The boy becomes a man, and then an old man. In the end, all he needs is a place to sit, which the tree, now reduced to a mere stump by all it has given, is happy to provide.

Some discussion questions:

Why does the tree give so much to the boy?
Is the boy right to keep asking for me?
What should the tree give to the boy?
What should the boy ask of the tree?
What is love?
Can a tree love a boy?
Can a boy love a tree?
Why do we change as we grow?
What is happiness?
What does some one need to be happy?
What is the meaning of life?