When Jonas is chosen to be the new Receiver of Memories he meets his incumbent – The Giver, a man who is tasked with holding onto the community’s collective experiences and memories.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
In “Drones Put Spying Eyes in the Sky,” scientists are finding ways to use drones, or unmanned flying robots, in research and conservation efforts.
Introduce this text after students have read Chapter 3, and have a good sense of the high-surveillance community that Jonas lives in. Ask students to consider how technology and surveillance can regulate and control the way we act. Ask them to consider Jonas’ anxiety when the plane flies overhead, as well how he feels after the loudspeaker admonishes him for taking the apple home.
This article describes life in North Korea under totalitarian government rule. In North Korea, the government has total control over the economy, the military, education, and people’s access to information—and it punishes those who try to change the status quo.
Introduce this article after students have read up to the end of Chapter 4, and have a good sense of the rules that Jonas and his family live under, in order to discuss issues such as free will and democracy. Have students compare the totalitarian regime in North Korea to the regime Jonas and his family lives under in The Giver. In what ways does the government in North Korea have total control over its citizens? How are Jonas and his community controlled? Have students discuss the consequences for those who disobey the rules in North Korea. Ask students to imagine what they think the consequences might be for Jonas should he break the rules.
This text provides an overview of arranged marriage today, including the cultural and historical trends that have influenced the practice.
Introduce this text once students have read up to the end of Chapter 6, when Jonas witnesses the Matching of Spouses at the Ceremony, in order to discuss social norms and cultural expectations. Ask students to read the text and compare the real life cultural practice of arranged marriages to the Matching of Spouses within The Giver. Are there any insights in the informational text that might help us understand why spouses are “Matched” within The Giver?
What makes up a person’s identity? Some scientists would say it’s a person’s genes — the traits that are passed down by a person’s mother and father. Other people might say it’s a person’s reputation. In “What Your Most Vivid Memories Say About You,” Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., has a different take on what makes a person who they are.
Have students read this text after they have read up to the end of Chapter 12. Jonas has received his assignment as the new Receiver of Memories and is learning to receive the memories of others under the tutelage of the Giver. Introduce this text in order to have students discuss issues around memory and identity. Ask students to refer to the text as they discuss the question — what makes a person who they are? Have students discuss whether they feel it’s right or wrong for Jonas to take on the memories of others.
William Stafford’s poem “Burning a Book” considers the act of book burning in a new light, emphasizing the greater importance of combating ignorance and sharing ideas.
Introduce this poem after students have read through to the end of Chapter 13, in order to have them consider some of the themes in the novel, such as censorship and ignorance, through a cross-text analysis. Have students consider how Stafford’s poem raises issues around the danger of ignorance. How does Jonas begin to feel frustrated by the Community’s ignorance? How can we contrast Stafford’s poem, and lines like “ignorance can dance in the absence of fire,” with what takes place within The Giver?
The horrors of chemical warfare during World War I are described in this gripping poem.
Introduce this poem after students have read Chapter 15, when Jonas experiences the horrors of war through a received memory. Use the poem to help students analyze the theoretical idea of ‘receiving memories’ through the use of detail in Owen’s poem. Ask students to read the poem and consider the vivid horrors of war and what it might’ve been like for Jonas, who had no previous concept of warfare, to have been transmitted a direct memory of the lived experience of a soldier.
In this speech, Julia Butterfly Hill explains how fear and addiction keep people from achieving their goals.
Share this text with students once they have completed Chapter 18, and have begun to discover how Jonas is questioning the rules he once took for granted. Ask students to consider the point that Hill makes on society’s “addiction to comfortability.” In the context of the article and this addiction, how does Jonas push through the barriers of this comfort and embrace the “fear of the unknown?”
The drive to conform to group norms is a powerful force in most people’s lives. This informational text about conformity helps explain why people tend to match their beliefs and behaviors to those around them.
Introduce this theoretical text to students once they have read up to the end of Chapter 19, and discovered the role that Jonas’ father plays in the Community. Ask students to consider how, in the context of the article, the Community, and in particular Jonas’ father, conform to the rules without question. What are the outcomes of this?
This short article details Nazi Germany’s program for killing sick, disabled, and elderly institutionalized people. The euthanasia program served as a model for “The Final Solution” for genocide against European Jews.
Have students read this short article after they have read up to the end of Chapter 20, when Jonas has learned about his father’s role in the community and what ‘release’ really means. Pair “Nazi Germany’s Euthanasia Program” with The Giver, and ask students to draw parallels between the Nazi’s motives for euthanasia and the Community’s reasons for the ‘release’ of young children.
In this poem, a desperate speaker begs the gods to deliver someone to love.
Introduce this poem once students have completed the book, in order to discuss some of the grand themes in the novel. Compare the speaker’s pleading tone in Sandburg’s poem to the anguish Jonas experiences once he begins to receive memories and sees the Community in a new light. Ask students, in the context of the poem and Jonas’ story within The Giver, to discuss whether they believe a wealth of feelings is necessary to truly live free.
Published in 1916, this poem is one of the most frequently cited and most misunderstood of Frost’s poems.
Introduce this text after students have completed the novel, in order to discuss the transformation that Jonas’ character experiences. Ask students to use the imagery and language of Frost’s poem to draw similarities to the decisions that Jonas makes within the novel and the path he takes toward Elsewhere.