Chaplain Mike's favorite is Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. He uses the book to explain the concept of grace:
I had a “giving tree” when I was a young boy. It was not an apple tree, as in Silverstein’s book, but a weeping willow. She was the perfect climbing tree in which to go high, high, chasing my dreams. She had the wonderful vine-like branches on which to swing like Tarzan. When those branches fell, they became swords and whips and weapons with which to fight the forces of evil like Robin Hood. The shade of that tree filled our backyard with a serene place of rest on hot summer days. Where the trunk split into multiple parts, it formed a small platform just the right size where a boy could lie and think and imagine the wide world beyond.
Even as a grown man with children and grandchildren of my own, I think of that tree. I long to see her again, to climb and swing and feel her embrace. And when I read this book to my little ones, I rejoice to know that there is One who gives and gives and gives, who for some mysterious reason has bound up his own happiness with ours.
And that is grace.