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The Giver: A Perfect Community?

written by: Maria Covillion • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 1/4/2013

Looking for a great book to keep your middle school students happily reading? Most students enjoy reading 'The Giver' by Lois Lowry. Your students will be stunned by what they learn in each chapter about a world much different from the one we live in today. This lesson covers chapters 1-5.

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    The Giver The Giver opens up students' minds to many “what ifs." I taught the book to my sixth grade class each year and never heard a moan or groan during reading period after finishing chapter one. It even captivates the not so eager to read students who would rather be in PE. You and your students won’t be disappointed.

    Appropriateness

    The Giver is appropriate as a class novel for grades 6, 7 and 8. It may be used as a read-aloud for mature fifth graders, but be aware that some content may make children giggle and blush, although it is not inappropriate. It is the winner of several awards, including the Newbery Medal. This lesson plan consists of vocabulary and discussion questions from each chapter. Many questions would be better suited as part of a class discussion, and some are designed as comprehension questions for students to answer independently.

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    The Lesson

    Objectives

    1. Learn new vocabulary from each chapter to ensure comprehension of the readings.
    2. Answer questions that require the students to make text to self, text to text, and text to world connections.
    3. Discuss key concepts that require higher level thinking skills.

    Procedures

    (These lessons may be broken up however you feel is appropriate for the time you have for reading each day.)

    Pre-reading Activity: Ask the students to do some writing in their writing journals (or loose leaf.) First have a discussion about how Americans live, from childhood to adulthood. Discuss how we go to school until at least 12th grade, or further, then go out into the world and interview for a job. If we don’t like the job, we can try to find another. (This is pretty much the opposite of how things are done in The Giver.) Discuss laws we have to keep people safe. Then tell your students to describe their perfect world. Don’t focus on having all the video games you want, and the newest iPhone or iPad. Think about how society works in the United States, and what you think would make it more perfect.

    Introduce Chapter Vocabulary

    Chapter 1: rasping, palpable, unison, distraught, apprehensive, pondered, prominent

    Chapter 2: enhance, adherence

    Chapter 3: chastise, remorse, bewildered, nondescript, tunic

    Chapter 4: regulated, invariably, hasten, serene, chortled

    Chapter 5: recounted, vague

    Key Ideas for Discussion

    Chapter 1

    1. Spouses are given to adults, not chosen by themselves
    2. Each family is allowed one daughter and one son
    3. The word “released."
    4. The Ceremony of Twelve

    Chapter 2

    1. Receiving Lily in the December Ceremony years before
    2. Comfort objects (stuffed animals) being given to sleep with only at night
    3. Stuffed animals described as imaginary creatures (bear and elephant)

    Chapter 3

    1. The incident with the apple when Jonas says it changed. He says the apple is “the same nondescript shade, about the same shade as his tunic." (p. 24) Explain to students the literary device of foreshadowing, and tell them to remember that passage. (If students are keeping a reading journal, you may have them write it there.)

    Chapter 4

    1. When Jonas goes to do volunteer hours at the House of the Old the attendant tells him they celebrated a release that day. Discuss the author’s way of describing a release by using the word “celebrated." What does that say about release?
    2. This chapter describes a common practice in the society. Older people who cannot care for themselves are bathed by younger people, even children. This chapter may require some discussion, as it may provoke some questions from the students.

    Chapter 5

    1. On pg. 34, Lowry writes, “’Thank you for your dream, Lily.’ Jonas said the standard phrase automatically…" Ask students to comment on that detail about what is expected from the members of the community. What would happen if he hadn’t said those expected words?
    2. After breakfast, Jonas’ mother puts the leftovers by the front door for the Collection Crew to take. Discuss this detail as it shows the society is not allowed to cook for themselves. (Food Distribution Workers were mentioned earlier in the book.)
    3. This chapter refers to Stirrings, most likely the onset of puberty, another touchy subject for middle school students. Jonas begins taking a pill to make the Stirrings stop. Again, discuss how this society controls its community.

    Comprehension Questions

    Chapter 1

    1. Why do you think the author uses job descriptions and ages as proper nouns? (Pilots, Street Cleaners, etc…)
    2. Why don’t the children know what animals are?

    Chapter 2

    1. How would you feel if a committee decided what your occupation (known as an Assignment) would be when you turned 12?
    2. What do you think Jonas’ assignment will be? What about his friend Asher?
    3. Why do you think there are so many silly rules in Jonas’ community?

    Chapter 3

    1. Find the detail in the story that supports the inference that people do not drive cars in Jonas’ community.
    2. What does it show about the community that Asher is required to play catch to improve his hand-eye coordination?

    Chapter 4

    1. What do you think the word “release" means? Use examples from the text to support your answer.
    2. What does Larissa’s recounting of the recent releases of Edna and Roberto tell you about her feelings on the subject?

    Chapter 5

    1. What do you think about the fact that the community has their daily meals delivered to their door and the leftovers collected afterward?
    2. Why is Jonas excited to begin taking the pills?

    Post Reading Activity

    In their reading notebook, or on loose leaf, have students write about the parts of the story so far that may have confused them. Have them tell if they think Jonas lives in a perfect community? Why do they feel this way?

The Giver Lesson Plans

This series provides lessons and discussion questions for all chapters of "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. The lessons are to be used with Middle School students, although they could be adapted for a younger class.
  1. The Giver: A Perfect Community?
  2. The Giver: An Honor or a Punishment?
  3. The Giver Chapters 13-18: The Awakening
  4. Chapters 19-23 of "The Giver": Choices