Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

The Giverby Lois Lowry - The Giver is definitely one of my easy top 5 books of all time for the 9-12 age set. Of course, it's not without its controversies, but it's a great read all around. If you're a 5th grade teacher, I would recommend doing it as a read aloud, because some of your more struggling readers will definitely struggle with this one, but wow, it's an amazing story.

One great activity to do at the start of this book is have students take black and white photos. I got this idea from a website (so I can't take total credit), but threw my own spin on it by not explaining what was going on at all. In fact, I told students to go outside and find the most beautiful non-human subject they could, and take a picture of it with the digital camera. The next day, I gave everyone their photo, without color, and asked them to explain the colors of their photo, how much the color adds to it, and what taking the color away did to the mood and style of the photo.

This was a great lead-in to the story, which is the story of Jonas, a 12-year-old living in a perfect utopia, or so it seems. The story introduces us to a joyless, chance less life where decisions are made for you and people don't experience the joys and pains of life. Jonas is given a very special job that will allow him to become the holder of memories in the community. However, as Jonas begins to experience the world, his outlook begins to change, and we begin to see the sadness and danger of a life without danger, love, and chance.

I'm not going to post a synopsis here, because if you want to read the book, you'll do it, just note that there are challenges. When I first read this book, I was challenged by a religious zealot in my building (don't we all love those?). I ultimately prevailed, but it does happen. I read the book back in September with my class, and yesterday, we did a list of all the books we've read together this year, which are quite a lot, because my reading block time is set aside for novels and other authentic literary choices, and asked them to rank them in order of preference. The Giver ranked either first or second on every single list, that is how much they enjoyed this book.

This post is simply a starter guide for it, letting you know that it is appropriate for 5th graders, no matter what you've been told. There will surely be more on this book here in this blog in the future. If you need any help with it, any ideas, or anything like that, let me know, I'd be more than happy to help.