by Lois Lowry
Recommended reading age: 10-18 years
Lexile measure: 760L
Why we recommended
Among other young adult novels that often focus on action and romance, The Giver stands out as a particularly thought-provoking and mature novel. Although many young adult novels describe similarly dystopian societies, The Giver approaches this concept through a sophisticated discussion of morality. Readers are encouraged to reflect on the idea of ‘ignorance is bliss’, and must engage their critical thinking skills to assess whether they agree with Jonas’s struggle for freedom. This makes Lowry’s novel a highly enriching read that will leave readers contemplating its ideas for many days after.
The novel is also well-suited for a wide range of readers (although its more mature content means it is generally suitable only for readers 10+ years of age). Its main subject is Jonas’s coming-of-age and development from innocence to knowledge, a change many young readers will be undergoing themselves as they learn about the world around them. Lois Lowry also promotes a hunger for knowledge and values of courage and independence — important notions to instil in young readers. At the same time, the sophisticated discussion of morality that the author presents and the ambiguous ending makes the novel a worthwhile read for older readers. The relatively simple vocabulary, straightforward plot and digestible length of the novel help convey its complex ideas in a way that is appealing to a range of ages.
Questions and activities for readers
adapted from enseignement.reginaassumpta.qc.ca
Chapter 2: If you were living in Jonas’s community, what job do you think you would get? Why?
Chapter 4: Do you think the rule against bragging is a good one? Why or why not?
Chapter 7: Why do you think the Chief Elder skips Jonas?
Chapter 10: Why do you think Jonas doesn’t know what the words sled, snow, and downhill mean?
Chapter 16: Why is the memory of the birthday party special to Jonas?
Chapter 23: What do you think happened to Jonas and Gabriel at the end?