6 Suggested Activities with “The Giver”: Jobs, Colors, Equality, Emotion, Euthanasia Debate and an Alternative Ending

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What’s Your Job?

The best lesson plans are those that require students to connect what they’ve read to their own lives. Have each student write at least five phrases that describe their strengths and weaknesses, and collect them on your desk. Read each paper aloud (without mentioning the student’s name), and ask the class to decide which job that person would do best. Then have each student write a response about how they would feel if that job were chosen for them, as well as whether they would see themselves choosing that job on their own.

Colors and Emotion

Begin class by telling students to make a list of the colors of the rainbow and encourage them to brainstorm an emotion that best matches each color. Have students share their ideas with the class. Then discuss how this exercise can help them understand why Jonas’s world contains no color, as well as why the visions from the Giver do contain color. (This character analysis may be helpful for students to reference.)

Alternatively, photocopy several pictures from a history or science textbook (or another source) so that they are in black and white. Choose pictures with a lot of action or emotion in them. Then have students compare the black and white versions of the pictures with the color versions of the pictures. This can help students understand how color can help to show emotion as well.


Write the question “Is equality important?” on the board. Although some students will understand what you are referring to, others may volunteer that equality is very important, and will give their reasons for why this is so. Have students break into groups and discuss the ideal type of equality, contrasted with the equality shown in “The Giver.” Have one student in each group take notes, and let everyone in the group use those notes to write a short summary of the discussion. Then call on one student from each group to share their ideas with the class.

Euthanasia Debate

Mention to students that euthanasia, or mercy killing, is one of the main topics discussed in the book. Encourage the students to debate whether euthanasia is ethical or not. Have them use examples from the book in their arguments. (The anti-euthanasia side will find support from the book, and the pro-euthanasia side will have to counter that support by explaining why euthanasia in Jonas’s world is different from euthanasia in our world today.)

Alternative Ending

Many students are discontent with the ending of “The Giver.” If this is the case in your class, a good last activity before putting aside the novel is having them write an alternative ending that they think would be more satisfactory. (You should first make sure that they understand the general sequence of events in the novel by reading this novel summary.) This can be given as homework or as an extra credit assignment, depending on time constraints and student interest.