Apparently Shel Silverstein’s classic children’s book, The Giving Tree, is falling from grace. Recently it was banned in the state of Colorado and, whether you are inclined to agree or not, it’s leading to growing concern and discussion among many concerned parents and educators.
The Internet’s buzzing with it.
“Kids — and parents — need to understand that there’s a big difference between selflessness and generosity.” LINK
“The lesson is that people will only be your friend if you do what they want, and that anyone who doesn’t give you whatever you ask for is not your friend.” LINK
Do a Google search of your own.
This has become a hot topic with strong opinions on both sides. For my part, I always felt it was an incredibly sad tale.
As part of my Bachelor of Education degree (over twenty years ago now!) we were asked to write a children’s story. I chose to rewrite this classic in a brighter tone. I felt it missed the opportunity to impart a more uplifting perspective. I also realized that this would present an ideal chance to help spread the messages of stewardship and symbiosis central to First Nations and Aboriginal cultures the world over at a time when we grow more desperately in need of them.
This is what I aim to share with new generations of young people in the hope of engendering in them a greater sense of empathy for our living world. As a Canadian of Metis heritage, I feel this has become more crucial now than ever before.
There are other aspects of First Nations culture touched upon as well. I have taken literary license in their incorporation. Tobacco and smudging are sacred rites, and they are meant to show respect, just not necessarily in the way they are portrayed here. Flutes and love songs are also a part of many cultures as are canoes and the use of lodge poles. I hope this book can also act as a springboard for further inquiry.
I hope you will add it your your own library or maybe that of someone you love. It would be a useful addition as part of an international mindedness curriculum or for incorporating into a literature study unit alongside The Giving Tree.
The name Meekwun was inspired by a little boy who seemed to enjoy hearing this tale lo those many years ago on the Big Trout Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario, Canada. I hope you and your family, or maybe your classes, enjoy it!