What's it like to be a Tree?
Written by: Datia Ben Dor
Illustrated by: Itay Bekin
A curious child tries to understand: what does a tree feel? Is it happy being a tree? Perhaps it finds it hard to stand still in one spot all the time… This ability to see the glass as half-full makes the tree an inspiring character. This book invites readers to discuss their love of nature, and how to be content.
"Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot"
(Mishna, Ethics of the fathers, 4:1)
The Mishna tells us that the rich do not necessarily have a lot of money or possessions, but are rather those who are happy with what they have got. The ability to appreciate what we have, and learn to see the goodness in every situation, is the recipe for happiness. The tree is planted in one spot, and is connected to the ground. Despite its inability to move or travel, it is happy with the birds nesting in its branches, and the wind's caresses, as well as everything else it has got. The tree is therefore truly rich, as it is happy and pleased with its lot.
Enjoy reading and discussing this book together!
Proposed Family Activities:
- The child in this book asks the tree what it is like to be a tree. It may be interesting to discover your own child's answer to the question: What is it like to be a child? What makes you special, and what makes you happy?
- Itay Bekin, the illustrator, added details that are not explicitly mentioned in the text of the story. Can your child identify all that is found underground, by the tree's roots? Who makes frequent appearances in the illustrations, flying around throughout the book?
- The tree is happy to be rooted to a single spot, hear the birds chirping, and feel the dew falling. Perhaps you would enjoy playing "kind eye" with your child – look out the window together, look for good things, and share them with each other. You can then look inside the house, and continue playing by taking turns to tell each other what is good about your home and family, and what it is you like about them.
- You could go tree-spotting near your home. Try to notice which trees are growing in your area: Are they decorative or fruit-bearing? How can you tell whether they are young or old? Perhaps you could pack this book, a blanket and some refreshments, and read the story together in nature, under your favorite tree.
- Trees are very useful to us. You may enjoy walking through your home and looking for everything that is made from trees (wood) or their fruit. For instance: some of your furniture may be made of various kinds of wood; paper is made of wood shavings, as are books; olive oil is used for cooking and candle-lighting; wine and raisins come from grapes that grow on vines, and so on.
- Datia Ben Dor has written many well-loved stories and poems. You may want to look for them at home or the local library, and read them together.
For the Datia Ben Dor page
Datia Ben Dor
Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1944, and immigrated to Israel when she was a year old. During her early professional career, Ben Dor engaged in musical education, writing screenplays and songs for many TV shows for preschoolers, such as Parpar Nechmad (Lovely Butterfly) and the Israeli version of Sesame Street. Many of her children's songs and books are very well-known and loved, among them: Ani Tamid Nishar Ani (Me is Me), Digdugim (Tickles), Otiyot Mefatpetot (Chatty Alphabet), and Kacha Zeh BeIvrit (That's How Hebrew Is). Datia Ben Dor won awards for her contribution to children's literature, such as the ACUM Award and Bialik Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Children's Literature.