What's the big deal with The Giver

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by tkate, Apr 10, 2007.

  1. tkate

    tkate Rookie

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    Apr 10, 2007

    Maybe I'm missing something, but every forum I go to I hear teachers say "oh I had all kinds of problems teaching The Giver. Parents complained about the content". I'm about to teach this book in a lit circle with The City of Ember. What problems do parents have so that I can properly address them ASAP? I just didn't see what was so controversial about it in general.
     
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  3. deedee

    deedee Connoisseur

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    Apr 10, 2007

    I have never taught it but i could imagine parents concerned with the major themes in the book, i havent read it in a while but death-suicide, i believe was one of them. I really loved the book and with the ages you teach you may not have any problems.
     
  4. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Apr 11, 2007

    I teach The Giver every year with my seventh graders. I've never had a parent complain, but I can guess that some parents may object to the allusion to sexual dreams (the "stirrings" which Jonas reports and then must take medication to repress) and the euthanasia (release).

    I suppose some of them might also object to the theme of the novel which encourages people to think for themselves and make their own choices!
     
  5. tkate

    tkate Rookie

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    Apr 11, 2007

    I suppose some of them might also object to the theme of the novel which encourages people to think for themselves and make their own choices![/QUOTE]

    And God forbid we teach that!
     
  6. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Apr 11, 2007

    And God forbid we teach that![/QUOTE]

    I agree! I really believe that is what most people who object to the novel really disapprove of. I tell my social studies students that my main goal for the year is to teach them to question EVERYTHING (even me!) and to learn to think for themselves. They never fail to ask if the should even question the government.

    Now back to the thread.....
    If you do get questions from parents, try to find out what they are objecting to. Try to have answers for how you'll deal with sensitive questions. Personally, I answer them honestly. When kids ask what the stirrings are, I always explain that Jonas is going through puberty and has his first crush. The pills keep the citizens from having sexual (or any strong) feelings. When the kids ask about the birthmothers, I explain that they are probably artificially inseminated (the kids have studied reproduction in health and genetics in science by the time we read this).
     
  7. msb

    msb Rookie

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    Apr 11, 2007

    I also haven't had any problems with the situations in the book. I agree that perhaps the discussions about "the stirrings", pills, and euthanasia, might be cause for concern for some parents, but I think if you handle it appropriately, such as not go into the issues in great detail, especially at their age (13-14), then I think it will be fine. We had some discussions about the pills, and I asked students if they thought it was okay or not. I never really said what I thought since I wanted to hear their ideas. I was surprised that the boys in my class thought that THEIR daughters should take the pill to make sure they didn't get "the stirrings". The girls of course didn't agree with the boys' assessment and the discussion continued a little longer.

    By the way, we are currently reading it for our book club at school. There are some things the students will understand, but I think some of the older students will understand some of the complexities in the story. It'll be interesting to talk about some of these issues at our next meeting. :)

    In any case, I didn't have any complaints from any parents, and it was a pretty convservative school.
     
  8. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Apr 11, 2007

    As a parent, I doubt I would even know what that book was about much less be able to object to it.
     
  9. Docere

    Docere Rookie

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    Apr 11, 2007

    Amen!

    There are some parents out there that will object to any book you assign. Some would be happy with their kids just reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. A lot of the books that are popular in schools are controversial and thought-provoking and that's bound to make some uptight parents angry.
     
  10. Commartsy

    Commartsy Companion

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    Apr 12, 2007

    I don't teach it because I despise the ending. I felt like I had hold of a really good story until the author just kind of wimped out at the end. It was very reminiscent of one of those "...and then I woke up" endings. Ugh!
     
  11. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Apr 12, 2007

    The ending generates more discussion than almost any other part of the book in my class. My co-teacher and I are of differing opinions as to what happens at the end (of course, now that I've read Messenger, I know my interpretation is wrong). We have great debates over whether or not Jonas and Gabriel died and why we feel our positions are correct.

    Then ending is actually one of the reasons I love the book.

    Different strokes......
     
  12. msb

    msb Rookie

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    Apr 13, 2007

    I can see why that might be the case that it might be a disappointment at the end for some readers. I agree that I find the ending allows for a great deal of discussion with my students. This is where my students don't struggle with a literary response question; they are able to defend their interpretation of the ending with their own opinions. I would say that perhaps half of the class differs with their opinion on the ending.

    I think this is important because these students are scared to give their own opinions because of fearing the consequences of going against what the majority says--their peers. It also brings up their own experiences to the story, and it makes the story more relevant for them. Now that I think about it, isn't finding your own voice and not listening to the majority one of the issues Lowry weaves into her story? I've never really thought about it until now as I reflect on the students' reactions to the novel.

    In any case, normally I don't like ambuguity, but I really like how it's used in The Giver.

    Mrs. R. I haven't read The Messenger yet. I have read Gathering Blue...
     
  13. jd123

    jd123 Cohort

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    Apr 13, 2007

    My son read the book - I read it, too. I think that it's not just the euthanasia that's worrisome, but that the euthanasia involves babies as well, and that it's just a job, done without feeling.
    My son did not like the ending, either. Sometimes we get use to having the ending spelled out for us, but this ending does make you think about what might happen.
     
  14. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Apr 13, 2007

    I'm going to bed but had to post quickly...

    The Giver is my favorite book, I appreciate the ending, I've taught it without any parent concerns...
     
  15. agsrule!

    agsrule! Companion

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    Apr 15, 2007

    I love teaching The Giver! I haven't had any parent complaints. But this year I did have a student cry when we read about realease in chapter 19. And when we were discussing it again the next day for absent students, she covered her ears and hummed loudly so she wouldn't hear me. It really affected her. Now, each book we read, she asks if it's going to be a happy book, or like The Giver.

    I love the ending. My students get so frustrated when we reach the end, and I love the discussion that occurs because of it. I teach this novel between Nov. & Dec. so that we finish right in time for semester final exams. My students semester exam is to write the next chapter. I get some of the most interesting essays.
     
  16. msb

    msb Rookie

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    Apr 15, 2007

    I also have them write the last chapter for this book. The kids (well most of them) absolutely love this. I had them read their stories to each other, and then they chose which story they liked out of their groups. Each group reads the chosen story out loud. I think this works rather well since they are receiving feedback from their peers and not necessarily me. You would be surprised how creative the students were with their stories. Sometimes the author of the story doesn't want to read his or her story. I have his or her friend read, or I would read it for the author.
     
  17. Commartsy

    Commartsy Companion

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    Apr 16, 2007

    I really like this idea! I may have to rethink this book....grudgingly :rolleyes:
     
  18. curious

    curious Companion

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    Apr 16, 2007

    I've read the book (and enjoyed it). I haven't taught it to students, but am wondering, do any of you who teach this story give parents a heads-up on the content of the book?
     
  19. jd123

    jd123 Cohort

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    Apr 16, 2007

    As a parent whose child read the book, I don't remember any heads-up.
     
  20. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Apr 16, 2007

    At Back-to-School night in the fall, I have copies of the novels we read on the rail of my marker board. If I have time, I tell the parents a little about each one. I also encourage parents to read along with their children so that they can talk about the books at home, too. Other than that, I don't send anything home. I don't know of any teacher in our school that does. I've never had any complaints from parents, and as far as I know, no one else in my building has, either, but we are not in a very conservative community.
     
  21. curious

    curious Companion

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    Apr 16, 2007

    Mrs. R., that sounds fair enough.
     

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