A perennial favorite with educators, The Giver has been widely taught in schools since its publication in 1993. Over the years, Lois Lowry’s dystopian classic has inspired the creation of countless thought-provoking classroom activities for students. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites below.
(Please note, in most cases these activities are adapted from several different sources. We’ve included links to relevant lesson plans where possible.)
1. The Giver Job Fair
As a class, compile a list of some of the jobs members of the Community are assigned at the Ceremony of Twelve.
Place each assignment in an envelope and have students pick one at random. Ask each student to complete a job application for the position they received, including the traits and qualities they feel the ideal candidate would possess.
Lucy Knisley, via picturebookreport.com
2. The Giver Memory Book
As a class, come up with a list of common emotions—anger, fear, joy, excitement, etc. Ask students to compile personal memories they associate with each emotion in a journal. Students might choose to include photos or drawings along with their written memories.
Have each student choose a memory to “transfer” to the class, paralleling how the Giver transfers memories to Jonas. Discuss as a group whether there are any memories they might choose to forget, if it meant they would also forgo the emotions associated with the event (shame or trauma, for example).
3. The Giver Travel Brochure
Have students use multimedia tools and persuasive language to design a travel brochure for the Community. Students should consider aspects of Community life that might inspire tourists to visit, or families to relocate there. For example, they might include information on the local economy, government, schools, climate, transportation system and job opportunities.
Robert’s Resources, teacherspayteachers.com
4. The Giver in 90 Seconds
Have students work in teams to create 90-second video adaptations of The Giver to submit to the Newbery Film Festival. Rather than try and cram every detail of the story into a minute-and-a-half, students should explore ways to add their own creative flair to the narrative. For more information about the festival, click here.
Example of a submission:
5. The Giver Book Cover Redesign
The iconic cover of The Giver features a photo taken by Lois Lowry of an old man she met while researching an article in Maine. In her 1994 Newbery acceptance speech, Lowry told the story of how the man served as her inspiration for the character of the Giver.
“In the summer of 1979, I am sent by a magazine I am working for to an island off the coast of Maine to write an article about a painter who lives there alone. I spend a good deal of time with this man, and we talk a lot about color.
It is clear to me that although I am a highly visual person – a person who sees and appreciates form and composition and color – this man’s capacity for seeing color goes far beyond mine.
I photograph him while I am there, and I keep a copy of his photograph for myself because there is something about his face – his eyes – which haunts me.
Later, I hear that he has become blind.
I think about him – his name is Carl Nelson – from time to time. His photograph hangs over my desk. I wonder what it was like for him to lose the colors about which he was so impassioned. Now and then I wish, in a whimsical way, that he could have somehow magically given me the capacity to see the way he did.”
As a class, talk about the emotions Lowry’s cover evokes. Next, consider some of the elements of a successful book cover. Does it draw the reader in without revealing too much of the plot? Does it stand out on the shelf? Ask each student to design their own book cover for The Giver around an aspect of the story that resonated with them.
Amanda Miller via behance.net
6. The Giver Emotional Rainbow
Hang sheets of different colored paper around the room, with a notepad next to each color. Have students spend 30 seconds at each color, writing down the emotions the color inspires in them. When the time is up, have the students shift to the next color station.
After everyone has rotated through each station, review with the class the emotions inspired by each color. Were they consistent? Discuss why certain colors may have inspired negative emotions, while others inspired positive emotions.
7. The Giver Community Newspaper
Have the class create a newspaper for the Community, following a traditional front page layout. What sort of news might make the headlines? Consider the implications of “news” in a culture of Sameness.
After nearly 20 years, the film adaptation of Lois Lowry‘s novel The Giver will finally reach theaters this year. Jeff Bridges has been attached to the project for so long that originally he wanted his late father Lloyd Bridges to play the title character. Now, Bridges will play the mysterious figure who holds all of the memories of an emotionally sterilized community. The first images from the film have been released and they show Bridges alongside newcomer Brenton Twaites, who play Jonas, the 16-year-old in the community assigned to receive the memories. “The past is considered to be potentially polluting,” director Phillip Noyce explains to EW. “This is a world where complications are eliminated. Jonas himself goes on a journey as he finds out what’s missing. He starts to investigate what’s causing it. And that’s the beauty. That’s what makes the book so popular, it’s an investigation in ways of living.”
Hit the jump to check out the images and for more details on the plot. The film also stars Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard, and Taylor Swift. The Giver opens August 15th.
Fans of the book will note that Jonas’ age has been changed from twelve to sixteen, and while even Bridges was initially skeptical of the change, they say this will allow them to heighten the stakes by bringing a love affair into the movie. As for other changes, The Chief Elder (played by Street) will have an expanded role in the picture. But before fans go freaking out, they should also know that “Lowry has worked closely with Bridges and Noyce to ensure her vision is represented — right down to dressing the extras on set.” Of course, there have been plenty of authors who collaborated on adaptations of their books, and those adaptations turned out to be less-than-stellar. However, after twenty years, perhaps it’s better to have some optimism on this one.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Giver:
The haunting story of THE GIVER centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. The film is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbury Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.