By Lois Lowry
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Reading Level: 5th grade
Interest Level: 8th grade+
Awards: Newbery Medal (1994), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (1994), School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Golden Duck Award for Hal Clement Award for Young Adult (1994), Booklist Editors’ Choice (1994)
Teaser: Jonas lives in a utopia where everyone and everything is the same. Color doesn’t exist, pain doesn’t exist, love doesn’t exist. Until one day something changes: him.
Summary: Far into the future, there is a utopia where war does not exist and everyone seems to be peaceful. Everyone is required to take a pill everyday. The pills make everyone the same. No one sees color, feels pain, feels love, or feels hate. There is no war. A young boy named Jonas is anxious for the day when he will be given his job assignment. Before the day comes, he begins to see the landscape change in ways he never had before. He is assigned to be the new Receiver, a role where he keeps all of the memories of the people before the “Sameness.” Jonas is transmitted feelings of joy, sadness, and other intense emotions. He starts to feel like the “Sameness” is wrong and that everyone should have these memories. Jonas makes a startling realization about the people in charge and decides that the only thing to do is to run away.
Information about the Authors: According to Biography.com, “Author Lois Lowry was born on March 20, 1937, in Honolulu, Hawaii. She published her first novel,A Summer to Die, in 1977. After this serious drama, Lowry showed her lighter side with 1979’sAnastasia Krupnik, which became the first in a series of humorous books. She won her first Newbery Award for the 1989 novel Number the Stars. In 1993, Lowry received the honor a second time for The Giver, which would eventually become a 2014 film. More recent works include Son (2012) and Gooney Bird and All Her Charms (2013).”
Critical Evaluation: I thought that The Giver was very good. The ultimate question was should humans have free will? Our instinct is to say yes, but if you stop and think logically about why they started taking the pills in the first place then the answer might not be so easy. Humans continue to kill and war with each other. The pill makes everyone controllable. However, it has reached a point where no one is really living. Everyone is alive, but no one can feel anything. So while the pill might put a stop to violence between humans, there is no point in living if you are taking a pill that takes all the joy out of living.
Curriculum Ties: Human society
Booktalk Ideas: Discuss with peers what are some benefits and consequences to “sameness.”
Challenge Issues: Rebellion
Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights,Challenge Resources from the American Library Association
Why Did I Pick This: The Giver is a classic science fiction novel that makes readers ask philosophical questions about human society. It is considered a classic science fiction novel that warns of a possible future. Teens will enjoy reading about Jonas rebelling and achieving freedom no matter what.
Lowry, L. (1993). The Giver. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.