Good readers realize that reading a good novel should change you. This activity of “Agree or Disagree" for “The Giver" is a great way to see how the novel has changed your students’ attitudes towards various issues that the novel explores.
When to Use This Activity
For this activity of “Agree or Disagree" for “The Giver," you can give out this list of statements before beginning the novel to see how students feel before they begin reading. They can write whether they agree or disagree, including a few short sentences of explanation, and then discuss their views with the rest of the class. Then, you can give out a second copy of the list after they finish reading the entire novel to see how their feelings towards the statements have changed based on what they’ve read. If they are completing the activity after reading the novel, they should tie each answer into what they’ve read from the book.
“It is important to learn history."
Before reading the novel, students may interpret the word “history" as “dry, boring facts." After reading the novel, they might decide that understanding history – at least in the social sense – is an important aspect of living an effective life.
“People can be ‘equal’ without being ‘the same.’"
This theme runs throughout the description of the dystopia in the novel. People in Jonas’s society feel that mankind needs to have equal rights, which means that they need to be the same, or as similar as possible. If you’ve read another, similar story that has this theme, such as Harrison Bergeron, you can reference it.
“Pain is an important part of life."
You could use a variation of this statement, such as “A life without pain is meaningless." This forces them to think about one of the aspects of Jonas’s society, which was that it tried to control all pain and discomfort, and to avoid it whenever possible. In receiving painful memories, Jonas feels that he has missed out on feeling emotions – especially because society has hidden positive memories as well.
“Life would be better if people’s jobs were chosen for them, based on their strengths."
Students will realize that this refers to the novel’s description of how youngsters had their jobs “chosen" for them at a young age, at which point they would train for their one profession and had no choice of ever leaving it.
“The description of Release in the novel is no worse than the practice of euthanasia."
This is a great way to start a debate on the two sides of the euthanasia argument. In the novel, people were killed based on criteria that we would view as ridiculous. For example, Gabriel cried too much, so they were going to release him. People were also released when they reached a certain age. Students will debate how the modern practice of euthanasia is different and whether it is much less problematic or merely a bit less extreme. (This question should obviously not be introduced before students read the novel.)
“This book has a happy ending."
Students are likely to disagree strongly about this point, which should obviously not be included in the version of the list that you may present to students before reading the book. Some will think that Jonas has successfully reached Elsewhere with Gabriel. Others will think that Jonas and Gabriel have both actually died on their journey.
This activity of “Agree or Disagree" for “The Giver" will help students to evaluate the various ideas and themes they come across as they read.