The Giver is a wonderful middle and high school level novel that invokes tons of in-depth discussion and raises thought provoking questions about a life without memories, feelings or pain, a life of sameness and predictability and how that might be better or worse than the life we live.
The Giver Book Discussion and Color Less Activity
For our Mother/Daughter Book Club this month, we chose to read The Giver by Lois Lowry. It had been awhile since I had read it, and I found myself a little surprised (and maybe a little overwhelmed) about how many topics could be discussed after reading it.
The Giver Summary
The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.
Since I have spent time organizing my own thoughts about this book, I decided to gather a bunch of it here. From basic comprehension questions, to discussion questions/topics, as well as the colorless project that I chose to do with our book club.
The Giver Discussion Questions
Here are some thoughtful questions with thoughts on each one to talk about and share.
- What was the role of the “family unit” in Jonas’s community, and how is it different from the concept of family in our culture?
- The family unit was an artificial family selected by the Elders. Its role was to raise children by the rules.
- Children were assigned to each set of parents; when the children were old enough, the parents were removed to a home for Childless Parents.
- There were no natural connections among family members; there was no such thing as love; there were no grandparents or sense of continuity.
- What did you notice about the language used by the author in this book? How does it reflect the community itself?
- The lack of figurative language and showy adjectives robs the language of “color,” just as the community has been robbed of color.
- Almost all words are restricted to literal meanings, taking away the freedom and playfulness that figurative language allows. The people of the community have also been robbed of freedom and playfulness, and are restricted to literal actions and interactions with one another.
- Many new terms are mechanical (“comfort object”) or euphemistic (“release” for kill), which reinforces the lack of emotion and the sense of control in the community.
- Why do you think the Giver finally decided that “things must change”?
- Sharing memories with Jonas made the Giver feel less alone and less hopeless.
- Telling the truth about Rosemary seems to have made the Giver less willing to risk any more tragedies like hers.
- Loving Jonas, and knowing Jonas had the ability to love, made the Giver determined to help him escape to the larger world.
- In order to change plans suddenly and sneak away from the community with Gabriel, Jonas must have learned many new values during his time with the Giver. What were some of the things Jonas learned? Give examples.
- to think for himself and question what was happening around him
- to defy rules
- to take risks
- to sacrifice himself in order to save someone he loved (Gabriel)
- to judge others by different standards or morals from those applied in the community (as when he watched his father release the twin boy)
- Why do you think the title of this book is “The Giver” and not “The Receiver”? Do you think “The Receiver” would be better?
- The story focuses on Jonas, who is the new Receiver, but he becomes a “Giver” at the end, in a sense, by giving his memories to the community, by giving his life for a cause, and by giving memories to Gabriel.
- Students might argue that Jonas is the character who is acted upon in this story and the Giver is the one who brings about change by training Jonas and staying in the community afterward, so the Giver has greater significance.
- Students might argue that the title is appropriate but the name of the job is inaccurate, since the person’s role is to give memories, give advice, and give wisdom. The person is called the Receiver, but he only “receives” during training.
Discussion Questions / Topics
- If you were to write your own ending for The Giver what would happen next?
- Do you believe that Jonas and Gabriel have a happy ending? Why or why not?
- Why do people break the rule against riding a bicycle so easily?
- What does the book suggest about the importance of being able to make choices, regardless of the consequences?
- If you were observed by the Elders, what Assignment would they think fit you? What would bring them to this conclusion?
- In Jonas’s community, every person and his or her experience are precisely the same. The climate is controlled, and competition has been eliminated in favor of a community in which everyone works only for the common good. What advantages might “Sameness” yield for contemporary communities? Is the loss of diversity worthwhile?
- True/False, Matching and Essay Questions for The Giver
The Giver World Without Color Project
Focusing on a colorless world I sent the girls out with a camera. Each girl was to choose something that they felt captured/represented “color” for them. When they came back I printed each photo in both black & white, as well as color.
Then I sort of set them free with craft supplies to create mini posters using their photos. It was interesting to see how each girl had their own creative spin on this topic.
You might also want to encourage them to use quotes from the book, or like in the first image descriptive feeling words were used in conjunction with the photos.
Books in The Giver Quartet
- The Giver– summary is above.
- Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.
- Messenger – Trouble is brewing in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on welcoming strangers, Village will soon be cut off to all outsiders. As one of the few able to traverse the forbidding Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter Kira to return with him before it’s too late. But Forest is now hostile to Matty as well. Now he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.
- Son – They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.
Compare and Contrast The Giver Book & Movie
While the book came out in 1993, the movie came out in 2014. I often enjoy watching movies based on books after we have read the book. It makes for interesting discussions such as:
- How things differed from the book?
- How the visuals looked different than what you pictured?
- How was the movie story line was the same or different from the book and why you might think that was done?