Theme: Freedom of Choice
Grades: Grades 7-8
The Giver is a science fiction story about a 12-year-old boy
who must choose between a world of sameness or one filled with both
the intense joys and pains of life. Jonas lives in a "perfect" world,
devoid of strife or conflict. When Jonas begins training for his life
assignment as the Receiver of Memory, he meets his teacher, a man called
The Giver. As The Giver transfers to Jonas the memories of the world,
Jonas begins to realize that his seemingly perfect world has many flaws.
When the life of a baby, whom Jonas has become attached to, is threatened,
Jonas must decide where his loyalties lie.
- Classifying: Making Choices.
To stimulate an oral discussion on freedom of choice, invite students
to brainstorm things they do every day. Then have students classify
each activity as 1) one that is totally their choice, 2) one in which
they have some choice, or 3) one in which they have no choice. Students
might work individually or as a group to chart their answers. Have
students look for patterns in the types of items that appear under
each heading. Conclude by revealing to students that the freedom to
choose is an important issue in the novel they will read.
- Connecting to Real Life: Book of Rules.
Begin a discussion about whether it is important to follow rules and
the reasong for rules in our society. Then ask students to create,
independently or as a class, a list of rules they follow at home,
at school, or in their community. Ask them to divide the rules into
two groups: those that they believe are important and essential and
those that are not important or are unnecessary. Suggest that they
display their two lists of rules in a collage on a bulletin board
or other wall area to use in later comparisons with the rules of Jonas's
A Great Debate.
Have students debate the question "Is it better for all people to
be alike or for people to be different?" First assign students to
one of two groups: Pro-Sameness or Pro-Diversity.
To prepare for the debate, have each group brainstorm ideas to support
their side and organize their best defense. You may wish to allow
time for students to find facts that support their position from
the novel, from almanacs, and other sources.
- Act it Out.
Ask students to consider what would happen if the freedom to make
any choice were suddenly taken away from them. Instruct a group of
students to write a skit in which the characters are without freedom
of choice; have a second set of students perform the skit.
- Genetic Engineering.
The Community has been genetically altered for Sameness. Instruct
students to research genetic engineering and tell whether they think
it is right or wrong to tamper with nature in this way. Have them
write a persuasive essay on this issue, using examples from their
research as well as from The Giver.
Research another utopian-like community, such as the Shakers. Write
a comparison between that community and the one presented in The
Giver, in which you consider the rules of conduct within the community
as well as its relationship with the outside world.