The Giver
by Lois Lowry
book summary and critical reaction

author/illustrator study

classroom connections

list of related books




A Newbery Medal Book
An ALA Notable Children's Book
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Book summary
"The Giver" is a futuristic science fiction novel set in a utopian society.  In Jonas's community, there are no feelings, no hunger, no inequalities, and no pain.  Everything is created to be equal.  Every family unit is uniform and prescribed according to the community leaders.  Each member of the community is given their profession when they turn twelve.  Jonas is selected to become the receiver of memory.  As he trains with the Giver, he realizes the truth of the community he lives in.  The people of the community do not get to feel love, true happiness, or any of the god qualities of life.  On the other hand, they do not feel any of the negative aspects either.  They live in a colorless society.   Those who do not live up to the standards of this Utopian society are quickly "released".  Jonas later finds out that this release process is equivalent to that of death.  He decides that it is up to him to return what has been taken from the members of the community.  With the help of the Giver, Jonas escapes from the community which will result in the release of all memories to the community.  This memory release process initiates the community members to previously unfelt feelings of pain, famine, war, as well as human differences, love, and happiness.  The resolution of this science fiction novel is up for debate and ultimately depends upon the discretion , opinion, and interpretation of each individual reader.

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Author/Illustrator study

Lois Lowry:  Lois Lowry was born in Hawaii on March 20, 1937.  Her father, Robert Hammersberg, was an Army dentist and consequently moved his family according to his orders from the military.  As a result, Lois has lived all over the world.  She attended Brown University for two years, then left school to marry and raise a family.  After having four children, Lois returned to school to earn a degree from the University of South Maine.  In the mid 1970's, Lois fulfilled her childhood dream when she began writing.  She currently lives in West Cambridge with her dog, Bandit.  Lois and her husband divorced and she enjoys spending her weekends in her 19th century farmhouse in New Hampshire.

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Classroom connections

These ideas are general and would have to be refined to suit the grade level and the particular students.

Language Arts:
1. Have students write in a journal the most wonderful and most painful memory they have
2. Have students discuss what would be needed it make their lives perfect.  What would they be willing to give up in order to achieve that perfection?
3. Have student work in a group to create a “perfect” community, they should include a physical layout (map), name it, describe the type of government it would, what laws and rules exist, and a description of the people's days and their activities.

1. Examine the nature of color.  Discuss the breakdown of the spectrum.   Use prisms to show how light is broken down.
2. Talk about color blindness, its causes, and how males are more likely to be color blind due to a recessive gene found on the X chromosome.
3. Use optical illusions to show how the eye can be fooled.

1. What makes a utopian society?  Examine communities that have attempted to be utopias.  What generalizations can be made about utopias?
2. Have students’ debate about what happened at the end of the novel.  Have them support their ideas from the text.

1. Look at the Amish, Mennonites, or Hasidic Jewish communities.  Have each group of students’ research on each of the groups.  Discuss the differences between these communities and mainstream community.
Social Studies:
1. Have students examine diversity in society, different cultural issues
2. Have students discuss feelings- and how society regulates certain feelings of hatred, desire, fear, and sadness

Lesson Ideas for THE GIVER found at

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List of related books
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Scenario: You are a famous researcher and you have just gotten a new assignment from your boss, Dr. J! Your assignment is to research futuristic cites and then plan your own futuristic city. You must make a city that everyone would want to live in! Dr. J has given you some leads for your quest! Good Luck!

  Go to:
 and read the article about the future,
  then Go to:
 and read the article about the future,
  then Go to:
 and read the article on the future. Write down anything of interest that you found in these three articles.
  Go to:
 and read the Beyond 2000 article along with the "World's best guesses about technological developments in your lifetime", pick one technology development to use in your city and print it out. (This technology must be present in your futuristic city.)
  Go To:

 and search through sight and find a silly name for your city.
You have followed your leads, and are about to plan your city, when you get a letter from Dr. J. You must read the letter before you go on with your research:

Dear Researcher ,

Now that you have read about futuristic cities, you must now plan your futuristic city. You  must write a page long summary of your city. The summary  must include, a clever name, it must have at least one technological development,  and you must describe what daily life might be like. Make sure that you use your  imagination! Remember, everyone must want to live there!

Dr. J

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Related Websites
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Erin O'Toole               Classroom Activities/Book list
Molly Coy                   Author Study
Amy Jordan                Summary
Jaimie Brink               Webquest