Saturday, September 17, 2011

S & S Stacks v3

For my children's literature class we are assigned to read The Giver by Lois Lowery. We aren't reading it until later this semester but to get a head start I decided to read it early. I was certain I had read it in the 4th grade, but couldn't remember what it was about.

As soon as I got started reading I became certain that I hadn't read it in school. I would have remembered! This book was very similar to popular YA books today, books centered around a very utopian and dystopian society such as The Hunger Games series and the Matched series.

This book is about a boy named Jonas. Jonas lives in a world where everything is "perfect" and practically all decisions are made for him. In this world telling lies are impossible, dreams are reported and medication is taken to remove many pleasurable feelings, such as love.

In Jonas's world each child has the same birthday and it is celebrated with a ceremony and usually a gift. Each child receives the same gift and the gift has specific meaning that represents their current age. For example, his little sister receives a jacket that has buttons down the front when she turns 8. Up until then, all her coats had buttons on the back because others had to take care of buttoning them for her. Now she is capable of taking care of buttoning her own coat, which represents getting older and caring for ones self.

In The Giver, Jonas turns 12 years old and that is the year children are assigned their occupation. Some citizens are laborers, some are mothers, some are assigned to care for the elderly. There are many different roles and each role is based on a sort of implied hierarchy. Jonas is assigned the role of Giver, which is an enormous honor in his world. There is only one Giver in each generation, so it is a rare and unique role.

The role of the Giver is to take on the burden of all past memories, good or bad, so that the other citizens do not have to. The current Giver is assigned the task of training Jonas and has to give all of his memories to Jonas just as the Giver before him did. He gives Jonas wonderful memories of snow and sledding, of sunshine and love, of holidays such as Christmas. He also gives Jonas painful memories of sledding accidents and sunburns, of broken families and divorce, and even of war and hunger.

The Giver is full of amazing symbolism and life lessons. Reading it as an adult is very different than reading it as a child, or even as a student in middle school. This book would appeal to all ages and many could most definitely make connections with it.

I read this book while subbing a couple of days last week in a middle school and I had several students approach with me comments about how much they liked it. This book has won several awards and is wonderful for discussion in book clubs or to get your students thinking. It's definitely a classic that I think everyone should read at some point in their life.

Have you read The Giver?


Unknown said...

I teach high school English so I don't teach this book but I do teach a dystopian literature unit, so we do talk about this book as a dystopian peice many of the kids have read in the past. The kids love it. And, if you are looking for other dystopian read, I teach Fahrenheit 451 and Animal Farm as part of this unit.
I think you mentioned in a previous post that you are doing an assignment on banned books and didn't know where to start. The Giver is a frequently banned book so maybe you start there!

Shoshanah said...

I know we talked about this already, but yes I read it, but didn't until college. i did her a rumor that with the recent dystopian kick they're working on a movie version, but I'm not sure if that' completely accurate.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Her name sounds familiar, but I am not sure that I ever did read THAT particular book.

A-HA! I just googled it -- I think I read some of the Anastasia books, but not The Giver. I'll have to give it a try!

p S h A o R t A o said...

I remember having to read this for a middle school english class. My whole class loved it. I read it again a few months ago. This time around I wish there was more to it so I finished it so fast!