The Giver is, I think, one of the best books to read with your family. Actually the first in a collection of four novels, The Giver tells the story of Jonas, a twelve-year old boy who is given the task of “keeping” all of the memories for the people of his community. As his friends are given adult assignments like taking care of the elderly or newborns, Jonas is selected to fill a much more challenging role. He must leave his family unit and take on the burden of human experience, with only his elderly predecessor as a guide. Lois Lowry brings to light topics such as family, sacrifice, and the importance of fully living and experiencing life.
– There are many redeeming qualities about Jonas’ community: strong family bonds, no poverty or unemployment, equal treatment for each citizen. How do these aspects compare to the lack of diversity? What do you think is lost and gained by adhering to community structure the way that they do?
– How is Jonas’ family different from others in their community? Do you think this has an impact on Jonas and the choice he eventually makes to leave?
– Do you think that Jonas was happy about being chosen to be the next Giver?
– While training to become the next Giver, Jonas experiences both painful and joyful memories. Why do you think that both are necessary?
– Why do you think that Jonas leaves the community? Would you have made the same choice?
– In her acceptance of the Newberry Award for this book, Lois Lowry allows for various interpretations of the ending, saying “There’s a right one for each of us, and it depends on our own beliefs, our own hopes.” How did you interpret the final scene of The Giver?
This book is particularly good for young readers. In fact, is is often included in middle school curriculum and has been included on NPR’s “100 Best-Ever Teen Novels” and Goodread’s “Listopia: Best Young Adult Books.” Enjoy it this season with your family readers!