Loren has turned a personal story connected to his son's entrance into kindergarten into a universal story about having the courage to let go.
In the middle of a little forest, there lives a Little Tree who loves his life and the splendid leaves that keep him cool in the heat of long summer days. Life is perfect just the way it is. Autumn arrives, and with it the cool winds that ruffle Little Tree’s leaves. One by one the other trees drop their leaves, facing the cold of winter head on. But not Little Tree—he hugs his leaves as tightly as he can. Year after year Little Tree remains unchanged, despite words of encouragement from a squirrel, a fawn, and a fox, his leaves having long since turned brown and withered. As Little Tree sits in the shadow of the other trees, now grown sturdy and tall as though to touch the sun, he remembers when they were all the same size. And he knows he has an important decision to make.
A few things about this book. I have enjoyed sharing it with all my students, from grades kindergarten through grade five, which speaks of its universality and appeal. The students hear Loren's story seed. Some see the tree as Loren and his son as the leaves. Other students see his son as the tree. It's been interesting to hear their conversations.
I appreciate this line after the little tree has let go of his leaves, "As his last leaf floated to the ground, for the first time Little Tree felt the harsh cold of winter." I used this sentence as an opportunity to remind students that growth and comfort take time and that things will not get easier right away. A good reminder in this instant gratification world that there isn't always a quick fix.
It's important that Little tree let go at his own pace, the gentle concern and encouragement from forest friends was great modeling, but so to was the fact that Little Tree let go when the time was right.
These same friends were their to grow with Little Tree.We're taking a page (or leaf) from Little Tree and talking about ways to be courageous learners -- to let go so we can let grow.
I was able to meet Loren and share with him how much I love this book. I think you will too.
How will you let grow?