Welcome to The Giver Lesson Plans, where you will find dozens of great lesson plans and teaching tips for Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
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Dystopian literature dominates the YA landscape, and there are dozens of compelling novels to choose from in this genre with similar themes, but Lois Lowry’s The Giver continues to stand out. Lowry does and excellent job of establishing an atmosphere of “sameness,” and readers feel Jonas’ desperate desire to pull the community out of its voluntary stupor. The Giver compels readers to question the principles of equality, fairness, and competition. It shows readers the value of experiences and emotions, even when they are painful or negative.
The Giver can be engaging and rewarding for readers, but also for teachers using it in the classroom. The lesson plans shared on this blog should help you get the most out of this great novel.
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The Giver tells the story of Jonas, who is eleven years old at the beginning of the story. Jonas lives in a restrictive society that has gone to great lengths to eliminate the potential for conflict and suffering by imposing strict codes of conduct for all citizens.
In Jonas’ community, everything is regulated and assigned. At age twelve, citizens are assigned jobs based on their strengths and aptitudes as determined by the elders. Citizens are also assigned spouses and children (born to birth mothers they will never meet). When the children are grown, the family dissolves and the now childless “parents” live together with other childless adults. When citizens are no longer useful to the community, they are “released.” Release is a euphemism for death, but it isn’t talked about in this way, and the citizens are not taught to understand the finality of it.
At the beginning of The Giver, Jonas is nervous about the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve, in which he will be assigned his job in the community. At the ceremony, Jonas is assigned the role of Receiver of Memory, a great honor and special role to which he is uniquely suited.
When the community adopted the principle of “sameness,” all painful and joyous memories were purged. Children were no longer subject to the negative feelings of suffering, pain, fear, envy, injustice, etc.; but they also didn’t get to experience joy, love, excitement, or any of the other emotions that enrich our lives.
Only one member of the community, the Receiver of Memory, holds the collective memories of the past, so that the community can avoid making the mistakes of the past. Holding these memories can be tremendously stressful and painful for the Receiver. Jonas receives memories, good and bad, from the previous Receiver, who becomes the Giver with the naming of a new Receiver.
As Jonas receives memories, he realizes hos empty life is in his community. The memories enrich Jonas’ life, and he yearns to share them with the people he loves, who have never suffered, but have also never experienced great joy.
The Giver and Jonas develop a plan to share the memories Jonas holds with the entire community. To release Jonas’ memories, he has to pass beyond the boundaries of the community into what is known as “Elsewhere.”
When Jonas learns that the baby boy his parents have been caring for is to be released the next day, he decides to abscond the boy immediately and head for Elsewhere in an effort to save the child and change the community forever.