Introducing The Giver
The Giver by Lois Lowry is a Utopian text, centred around a teenage boy called Jonas who lives in a highly regulated world free of emotions, violence and ugliness. People are assigned jobs, life partners and children. While his world seems safe and attractive, at first, it is not long before readers begin to see cracks in the carefully curated façade of life in the colony and begin to realise that there are costs involved in keeping life so seemingly perfect.
Jonas is chosen for a very important role – to become the Receiver. He must visit ‘The Giver’ each day of his training and learn about all the negative and sad elements the society has left behind, in the hope that this person safeguards the memories of the past and is able to avoid repeating those mistakes.
This is a thought-provoking novel, a nice change from the popular dystopia and a great opportunity to contrast the two. The ending is open-ended, which can be both frustrating and freeing, with readers able to draw conclusions as they see fit. It also creates a great opportunity for students to imagine what comes next – whether it be a hook into a new adventure or an alternate ending.
Possible opportunities with this text
A compare and contrast task with a dystopian text such as Ready, Player One (Ernest Cline) or The Maze Runner (James Dashner)
Connections with real-world scenarios when look at society restrictions and censorship of information and knowledge.
Writing an alternate ending for the text.
Creating a map, diorama or model of the community.
A chance to find another text depicting a utopia (The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and the Divergent series (Veronica Roth) both include utopian and dystopian aspects).
Designing your own utopian society.
Looking at emotional links to memories – think about how different emotions link us back to different memories. Or the reverse – think about a memory, summarise it, and then list the emotions that come to mind when thinking about it. Discuss why kids think those emotions are so strong.
Colour study – look at how colours represent different emotions or meanings and create a static image with a monoprint of shades of a certain colour to create a strong impression and emotional reaction.
Create a personal memory book – use photos, stories and art to produce a book with some of the students’ favourite memories.
Write a newspaper article that could be put out by the leaders of the community after Jonas’ disappearance – what would they write? How would they depict him? How would they cover things up, or not?
Possible concerns about the text
The text brings up issues such as ageism, euthanasia and infanticide.
Character files and information – particularly looking at the changes in Jonas
Setting – maps, descriptions, boundaries around the community, time in history
Themes – the need for choice, human nature and what makes us unique, freedom, protection of the weak, the importance of remembering our history, friendship, betrayal, love, parenting
Context – when the text was written, what was happening around the author
Text type – writing style, purpose, audience, message, literary devices, structure
Chapter questions or comprehension questions
Of course, it just so happens that I have a ready to go resource on The Giver!
Check out my read-to print The Giver Novel Study unit which contains all of the above and much more, as well as a basic teaching unit to get you up and running. Save time and effort. The unit is affordable and easy to follow. Students will like the clean layout and the fact that they have all their novel study resources in one place. Check it out at www.tea4teacher.com today!
All the best with your study of The Giver – I hope your students love it and enjoy reading and learning together! Xx Anna