“Little Tree” by Loren Long is a charming and thoughtful story about a little tree. He lives among other trees and they have animal friends who play among their branches. The squirrels and mourning doves keep the little trees company throughout the summer months.
Little Tree loves his leaves and how they keep him cool in the heat of summer. Autumn arrives and Little Tree loves how the fall wind makes his leaves rustle and move. But when the other trees let go of their leaves, Little Tree finds that he just can’t. The thought of losing his beloved leaves makes him scared and sad — and he just can’t do it.
So year after year Little Tree holds on tightly to his leaves. While the other trees are growing taller and stronger year by year, Little Tree stays small — still holding tight to the long dead leaves. He finally listens to the sage advice of his friends and even though it frightens him, he lets go of his leaves. After he has allowed the dead leaves to drop, he grows and matures like the other trees.
The lesson that Little Tree finally learns is one that even young children can discuss. It’s about the cycle of life, it’s about change, and it’s about letting go. This is a picture book that can be enjoyed (and taught) on many levels.
I used this with a group of fourth grade students and the book “Because of Winn Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo. The students compared and contrasted the two books and the theme of “letting go” using a Venn diagram and then writing an essay about their thoughts. There are many other books, picture books and middle grade fiction, that deal with the subject of letting go, change, and loss. This short picture book is a great way to help children understand that change is inevitable.
Perfect for classrooms and reading out loud, this book also would be a great gift. Just like the “Otis” series in which each book has a message for the reader, “Little Tree” is an important book that sends an important message.
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