Lois Lowry: The Giver

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York, New York: Houghton-Mifflin Co, 1993

external image 9780385732550_giver.jpgJonas lives in a perfect world. There is little pain, no real fear, and no comforting consistency and regularity in his community. However, what he discovers in the training for his adult occupation is something that shakes his understanding of everything he knows; his friends, his family, life and how it ends. Jonas begins to discover that although his world is safe and quiet, and though there is great capacity for pain in human life, all joy in life is accompanied by pain at some level. "Jonas trudged to the bench beside the Storehouse and sat down, overwhelmed with feelings of loss. His childhood, his friendships, his carefree sense of security - all of these things seemed to be slipping away". This book is a poignant reminder to anyone who has lost of what there also is to gain in life, and that there are many beautiful things we take for granted, such as the red in an apple and the green of the grass. Jonas learns these things, and appreciates their value so much that he leaves behind safety and security for a chance to live with permanent colors, the ability to make choices, and no more sameness. "And now he was starving. But if he had stayed...he would have starved in other ways. He would have lived a life hungry for feelings, for color, and for love". This book shows that the ability to make choices gives us courage, and decision making gives us wisdom; when faced with choices sometimes the harder choice benefits you more in the long run, but the difference is having the strength and courage to persevere through it. Jonas makes personal sacrifices and leaves behind a world he is safe and comfortable in. He does this in order to benefit his community and save a life, or potentially more lives. The Giver is a useful tool to make kids rethink their lives, and re-evaluate what they have, especially when most kids of this age group are looking forward in life, and focusing on what they don't have, such as privileges and cars and freedom from their parents.

Recommendations for Teachers
The Giver is a book that explores new concepts of reality and a society of people with very strict standards and rules on how to live their lives. Within the classroom, the idea for an utopian society could be excellent conversation starters, and students could enter into this "story world" with a variety of in-class activities. Students could make their own "perfect" community in a variety of ways ranging from writing about it, to drawing it, to making a model of it. One concept of the book that appeals to many students is the idea of having a life that is planned for you, similar to playing the board game Life. Students could write essays on how their world would be different if their careers and families were chosen for them, and how this would contrast the world we live in today. Students may also be interested in playing an online interactive computer game revolving around the book. The role playing game could be used as a tool to show how this society functions regarding their laws, and could help the students better understand the flaws that may exist in this sort of community, and if a utopian society is ever possible to maintain. Decision making can also be discussed with this book along with the importance of thinking things through and doing the right thing even though it may be harder to do the right thing sometimes. Students can be posed with situations and asked to make decisions as if they were living it, write about why they would do what they would and then have a class discussion or a debate to try and figure out what a better scenario would be. Also it would be a good thing to teach with the importance of memories in history, and how remembering past actions can help us to not make the same mistakes twice.

About The Author

Lois Lowry was born in Hawaii, and because her father was an army dentist, she traveled all over the world. She went to New York, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and Tokyo when growing up with her family. She attended Brown University and married just after her sophomore year, when she was 19. She married into the military as well, and traveled to California, Connecticut, Florida, and South Carolina, having a son and a daughter along the way. They moved to Cambridge when her husband left the Navy and enrolled into Harvard Law School. Then they moved to Maine and had two more children. While in Maine Lois attended the University of Southern Maine and obtained her degree, and began writing professionally, something she had dreamed of doing since those childhood years. As she puts it: "... I had endlessly scribbled stories and poems in notebooks" (Loislowry.com). She has written more than twenty young adult books and received many honors for them. Some of her honors include: The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, The California Young Readers Medal, The Mark Twain Award, and The Newberry Medal.

Some of her more famous works include:

The Anastasia Krupnik Series
The Sam Krupnik Series
Books About the Tates
Messenger (part of the trilogy along with The Giver and Gathering Blue)
Gathering Blue (part of the trilogy along with The Giver and Messenger)
The Gooney Bird Books
Number the Stars

A complete list of her books can be found at Lois Lowry's Website

Multimedia (Video)

Below are some examples of kids making video trailers for The Giver. Above is an interview with Lois Lowry herself.
"The Giver" Trailer
'Time Kids' interview with Lois Lowry
Another "Giver" Trailer
A Video Interview from the Reading Rockets Website

Additional Resources:
  • Lois Lowry's Website> Author's website where you can find a complete list of her books, speeches, biography, FAQs and contact her.
  • Lois Lowry's Blog> Blog written by Lori herself about books and what she is planning.
  • Good Conversations Website Website for you to get information about your favorite books, read author interviews, have book talks, and view educational resources relating to books of interest
  • Barnes And Noble: The Giver Buy your copy of The Giver today!
  • Wikipedia Review Contains a plot summary, literary significances, a list of awards received, and adaptations of the book
  • Cliff Notes for The Giver Need help understanding the book or parts of the book, or just want someone else's view? Cliff notes can help you! Read about the novel in general, break it down by chapter, read critical commentaries and look up information about the author
  • Lesson Plans Downloadable lesson plans to use when teaching The Giver. Ranges from pre-reading activities to vocabulary studies to group projects, plus much more!
  • From the Author A note from the author about the book. Also includes more lesson plan ideas, a summary of the book, awards received, and more.
  • Helpful Websites For The Giver A page containing additional links and resources for The Giver
  • Activity Pack: The Giver Purchase lesson plans and activities here to be used when teaching The Giver

--Deanna DiCesare
-Brooke Ondersma
-Jenny Johnston

Other reviews: Stick Figure by Lori Gottlieb