爱心树 / 愛心樹 / 아낌없이 주는 나무 / The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of my childhood favorites, and my family has been reading it in both Chinese and English! After reading The Giving Tree over and over, my children learned to recite the story by heart. The kids also got to hear our former nanny read this in Korean.
If you’re raising multilingual children like us, you’ll be happy to know The Giving Tree has been translated in many languages on YouTube! Even though my kids have largely forgotten Korean, they recently watched a Korean read-aloud on YouTube. I’ll share a peak inside The Giving Tree books in Chinese, English, and Korean. In case it helps, I’ve included a simple reading activity plus links to the narrations.
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爱心树 / 愛心樹 / 아낌없이 주는 나무 The Giving Tree
- Title: 爱心树 / 愛心樹 / 아낌없이 주는 나무 / The Giving Tree
- Author: Shel Silverstein
- Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
- Age level: All ages
- Where to buy:
*Note: There are various editions of The Giving Tree. Our English mini slipcase version has a woven, hardcover sleeve, while the Chinese and Korean versions include a glossy paper jacket. However, most English versions look like the Chinese and Korean editions.
What is The Giving Tree about?
An apple tree is the friend of little boy who enjoys climbing her trunk, swinging from the branches, eating her apples, and resting in her shade. The boy and the tree love each other’s company and are so happy.
Simple line illustrations show the boy growing older over time, and his childhood bliss is replaced with worldly concerns. The generous tree is not able to keep up with the child’s increasing needs and essentially gives all of herself until she becomes a stump, cut down to the heart “M.E.+T” that the boy once carved into the tree. At last, the boy returns as an old man who needs to sit and rest, knowing that she is always there for him.
Although the story feels sad to read as a parent, I like that it can be interpreted in many ways. Every time I read the book and notice something new, such as how “M.E. + T” could stand for “me and tree.” And I’m learning more about perspectives from other people.
To me, the relationship may be analogous to how much parents sacrifice for our kids and leave just a stump of ourselves left. Someday, our kids will grow up and leave when they start their own lives.
I also see an analogy to how we treat Mother Nature. With our modern consumption of resources, we often use nature for fleeting interests.
However, I recently learned that The Giving Tree was banned from a library in Colorado for being sexist and for criminalizing the forestry agency.
Photos of 爱心树 / 愛心樹 / 아낌없이 주는 나무 The Giving Tree book in Chinese, Korean, and English
As you will see in the photos, the illustrations are exactly the same in all 3 language versions. However, the font in the English book is slightly larger and thus easier to read.
Notice the artistic orientation of the text “and he would gather her leaves” and how the Chinese translation has the least amount of words “采集叶子.”
The first half the book has sparse text, while the latter half has longer dialogue between the tree and the boy.
Here’s an example of how I use Post-It Notes to highlight new words that my daughter and I are learning in Chinese.
Audio Narration of The Giving Tree
If you have the physical book, you can hear the narration with the following gadgets:
- Compatible with Luka Reading Robot which has high-quality narration
- Compatible with Youdao Dictionary Pen
Fun to Read Chinese narration
The Fun to Read Chinese YouTube channel has many great read-alouds! I like how they make the font larger and easier to follow along. Simplified Chinese and English subtitles are included.
My 5-year-old daughter reading 爱心树 / 愛心樹
Here is a candid video of my daughter reading The Giving Tree in Mandarin Chinese when she was 5-years-old.
Mid-way through the video, she hesitates on the word 幢 (zhuàng / measure word for house) because the Ximalaya narration that we listened to was unclear, and she wasn’t sure if the narrator said zhòng.
Intuit Korean has a nice read-aloud of The Giving Tree story in fluent Korean!
Mandarin Chinese and Korean
Trilingual Teacher reads this story in all 3 of my children’s languages! This particular video includes both Mandarin Chinese and Korean. I like how the teacher is visible in the Korean so my kids can see her facial expressions and have a human connection to the narration!
曦尹讀書會 XiYin audio’s Cantonese narration features the Giving Tree in traditional Chinese.
爱心树 / 愛心樹 The Giving Tree Word Matching Game – A Book-Based Activity!
Here’s a simple reading activity that I did with my daughter a few years ago!
What you need for the word matching game:
- Brown paper
- Green Post-It Notes
How to set up The Giving Tree Chinese word matching game:
- Cut out tree shape
- Write 2 sets of words on green Post-It Notes
- Scatter first set of words across the tree
- Match second set of words to the first set
In the pictures below, you can see that we matched traditional Chinese characters to simplified Chinese characters. However, you can match the same characters together or different languages together (eg, Chinese/Korean or Chinese/English, etc).
Obviously, this matching game can be done without the cardboard tree, but it’s an easy way to give context to word review!
When we review Chinese characters, we often include words that my children already know. Including familiar words helps with building confidence in memorizing new Chinese characters!
Later, my daughter wrote the book title on the tree! This was great child-led writing practice!
Have you read The Giving Tree in English, Chinese, Korean, or another language?
If you end up getting these picture books about Asians, let me know what you think in the comments below!
We’d love to hear about your learning experience and if you agree or disagree with our review! What other books do you recommend?