When I was in the fifth grade my favorite book was The Giver by Lois Lowry. It was one of those books I raced home from school to read. Long after I’d finished it’s last line, I sat on the edge of my bed and cried. I still remember how the book made me appreciate the sight of snow falling outside my window, the smell of my room, the very fact that I was alive, and able to take it all in.
Lowry writes morality tales for children. The first Lowry book I fell in love with, was Number the Stars, which told the story of a family who decided to shelter a Jewish child during the Holocaust. Number the Stars captivated my imagination and made me wonder if I would have the courage to stand up for others when faced with systematic injustice and cruelty.
Likewise, The Giver was about a deeply dystopian society in which everyone was free from suffering, but at the cost of their ability to feel, love, choose, know, worship, and really live. Every child in the novel’s futuristic world was genetically engineered, and the frail or imperfect, the children and the elderly, were killed via euthanasia. The hero of the story, a boy named Jonas, discovers the violent reality behind his seemingly nonviolent society, and adamantly rejects it. His escape means he gets to experience Reality with a capital R; real love but also real pain.
A film version of The Giver is now in theaters. Encourage the child or children in your life to read the book before seeing the movie. Even better, read it together. It’s a book every kid should have on their shelf.
– Anna Keating