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When a middle school book teaches you about humanity, the choices that are made for us, and how to forge our own path, it is worth taking notice. When it does so in a way that’s appeals to both adults and children, it becomes a MUST read.
And that’s what Lois Lowry did in her book, The Giver. Released in 1993, it follows a young boy, Jonas, in the weeks leading up to his “12th birthday” and the following year.
He lives in a perfect society where everything is orderly, optimized and made for making as few decisions as possible. Because this is the way it’s always been, back and back and back, most people don’t question the order, because as soon as they start puberty their strong emotions are suppressed.
When he is assigned his “job” in the community at his 12 year ceremony, he begins to learn things about his society that cause him to take matters into his own hands with life-altering consequences.
Why It’s A Must Read:
Back before teenage dystopian novels were a thing, The Giver was a masterful middle school read. I sat as a 13 year old in my downstairs bedroom, with the covers pulled up to my chin and the lights low (it was after bedtime after all) and couldn’t put it down. I was dying to know what Jonas would do and what would happen.
A kid near my age, living a life so different from my own, in a possible future that I could barely imagine was so interesting!
It hits on so many emotions and feelings of justice, choice, what makes us human, and maybe most importantly, what we’re willing to do for what is right. It’s a perfect middle school read because these are the themes they’re starting to think about for themselves.
I’ve read it at least 8 times now, and I get something new from it every time. Also, it won the 1994 Newbery Medal, which honors the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” each year. Award winners win for a reason!
Who I Recommend It For:
This book is good for kids about 10 and up. The words aren’t so hard, it’s more about the subject matter and this is an age that they are more likely to understand what’s happening at a real level.
Britton’s take: It was really good. I wish I’d read it earlier like you (mom) suggested. I definitely recommend it and can’t wait to read the next books.
Extra Notes: This book is the first in a series. The following books are Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son. Lowry wrote these remaining books over several years, so they are not as well known, but just as good. They help fill out the story and tell you what happened after (and before) The Giver.
Is There A Movie?
Yes! Though I always recommend reading a book before watching the movie. This one was released in 2014 and stars Jeff Bridges as The Giver and Brenton Thwaites as Jonas. It doesn’t have the greatest reviews, but that has to do with what they change and add, not the source material.