Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dystopian Literature, The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

The first dystopian labeled novel I read and discussed with my young daughter was The Giver. It now stands as one of the classics read and discussed in many 6th or 7th grade classrooms. The reading of it is easy; the understanding and content, not quite as much.

Jonas' world is controlled, safe, predictable. Families consist of people chosen to be together and young who are determined to be with the Nurturer parent. Jonas doesn't feel ready for the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve where he and those of his age will receive their community jobs/roles. Jonas becomes the Receiver ~ a role that only one person in a generation is ever assigned because that person carries forward the memories of the entire community. As he receives the memories from the Giver, he finds that his safe and comfortable world is really very dull.

Why would The Giver be read by 11- and 12-year-olds? What lessons could they learn about their world from reading about Jonas and his?

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