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All I ever needed to know I learned in 7th grade

The_Giving_TreeWhen I was in seventh grade, my English teacher structured an entire lesson around the children’s book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Though the topic of the book is not without controversy (people draw parallels to an ungrateful child who keeps taking from a parent who enables the greedy behavior), this lesson was a little different. And it’s a lesson that has stuck with me to this very day. If you’re not familiar with the book, you should either go get a copy (now!!), or be warned that I’m about to reveal the ending. Not that knowing the ending of this book will ruin it or anything, but still — SPOILER ALERT!!

The story is about the interactions between a boy and a tree. At the beginning of the book, when the boy was a young child, he would play on the tree: climb it, swing from it, and eat its apples. Then the boy’s priorities changed. His visits became more and more infrequent, and when he did, greed had taken over. What follows are a few quotes from the boy in subsequent pages: