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How The Giver Influenced Our Family Mission Statement

In an effort to ignite a more passionate reader in Jonas I looked at upcoming movie releases a few months ago. I was specifically looking for age-appropriate movies based on books. I planned on extending a reading challenge with attending the new movie as the reward for completing the book. Jonas hasn’t had enough experience with loving a book and being disappointed by Hollywood’s interpretation. :) I noticed The Giver (released Aug 15). I hadn’t read the book, but knew the main character’s name was Jonas. It seemed inspired.


I purchased the novel through Amazon and it arrived a few weeks prior to our road school departure. In the hustle and bustle I’d forgotten about the book and extending the challenge to Jonas. As we hit the road I decided to make it a family affair. As such, The Giver is the first novel we read as a full-time RV family. I read it aloud over the course of the first few days on the road. The book captured everyone’s interest and provided distraction from the long road trip hours. It will always have a special place in our hearts.

The Giver is a dystopian novel…

Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.

When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it’s time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back. (*back of book synopsis)

Our favorite part was when Jonas asks The Giver to share his favorite memory…

“Jonas felt the joy of it as soon as the memory began. Sometimes it took a while for him to get his bearings, to find his place. But this time he fit right in and felt the happiness that pervaded the memory.

He was in a room filled with people, and it was warm, with firelight glowing on a hearth. He could see through a window that outside it was night, and snowing. There were colored lights: red and green and yellow, twinkling from a tree which was, oddly, inside the room. On a table, lighted candles stood in a polished golden holder and cast a soft, flickering glow. He could smell things cooking, and he heard soft laughter. A golden-haired dog lay sleeping on the floor…

…While Jonas watched, the people began one by one to untie the ribbons on the packages, to unwrap the bright papers, open the boxes and reveal toys and clothing and books. There were cries of delight. They hugged one another…

”What did you perceive?” The Giver asked.

“Warmth,” Jonas replied, “and happiness. And – let me think. Family. That it was a celebration of some sort, a holiday. And something else – I can’t quite get the word for it.”

“It will come to you.”

“I can see why it’s your favorite. I couldn’t quite get the word for the whole feeling of it, the feeling that was so strong in the room.”

“Love,“ The Giver told him.

Jonas repeated it. “Love.” It was a word and concept new to him.”

When we finished reading The Giver we held our own little family book club review. We discussed this memory and decided that “warmth” and “love” and “joy” are important concepts in our family. As we finalize our family mission statement continuing traditions that will promote these kinds of feelings in our little family are at its core.

We used the following scholastic resources for further book review and to learn more about the author.

Lois Lowry, The Giver's author, is known for ambiguous endings. For one of our writing assignments I asked the kids to write their opinion of how The Giver should’ve ended or what they think may have happened. Below are their responses…

Brenna, Age 7

Jonas and Gabe were at the top of the mountain. Jonas heard some music. He looked around. He found a sled. Jonas put Gabe on the sled. They rode down the mountain. Jonas knocked on the door. A woman opened it. Jonas asked if they could come in. She said yes. They ran to the fire. Gabe fell asleep by the fire. Jonas ate a big dinner and they sang Silent Night.

Jonas, Age 11

At the end of The Giver I think Jonas was pondering back at the memory of the warm cottage and the people singing. Thinking about the memory probably made Gabe have that warm fuzzy feeling inside of the house, which helped them proceed back home.

Once Gabe and Jonas get home I think that the Community will change. The Community will start seeing what Jonas was seeing. Everyone will start having emotions and start loving each other. The world wouldn’t have communities anymore and everyone would be free.

I think at first, everyone would be a little shocked. They have had to adapt to nothing to everything. Emotions would be a little of a shock. Different feelings inside can feel good and bad. The citizens would be able to feel happiness, anger, and love.

I guess everything turns out good at the end of the day. Jonas and Gabe will make it home and see their friends, family, and The Giver. But he’ll also be able to feel love with them.

Ruby Bailey, Age 13 “Suddenly he was aware with certainty and joy that below ahead, they were waiting for him; and that they were waiting, too, for the baby. For the first time he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing.

Behind him, across a vast distance of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.” [-The Giver by Lois Lowry]

This new joy and realization warmed him despite the cold. He knew Gabe could feel it too. They were at the peak of acceleration. The snow flying towards them blinded Jonas. It was an exhilarating stop, as they began to spin on a thin sheet of translucent ice. He knew that this time he would not fall. There would be no pain. So he enjoyed to sliding. But the house seemed too close. Would he knock into it? Just as the sled began to slow exceedingly, he realized that his side may ever-so-slightly bump the door. His shoulder, hitting the frame sounded as a dull knock.

Jonas drew in an anxious breath. Gabe made blew little spit bubbles that seemed to freeze instantly in the frigid air. There was complete silence for a few moments until a small boy opened the door. He looked about five, with a wiry frame, deep green eyes and striking red hair. He reminded Jonas of Fiona but with bright orange freckles spreading across his cheeks.

The boy smiled up at him and said, “We figured we’d be seeing you soon.”

Jonas was shocked yet exuberant. “You were?” he questioned curiously.

“Sure! You’re Jonas! But what’s the baby’s name?”

“Gabe.” Jonas stated.

A woman appeared from around the corner in an apron, her hands covered in flour. “James, you are letting in the cold. Please…” she stared at Jonas and grinned. “Let Jonas in!” she said winking at James. “You’re just in time for Christmas dinner.”

Jonas felt a word creeping up in her head. “Mother.” He said through his grinning teeth as they embraced.

“Welcome home!” she announced, wrapping a dry, fleece blanket around Gabe. “The family’s in the sitting room singing carols.”

They all embraced him at once as he entered the room. They all sank to the floor embracing each other in a… hug he decided. A hug. He felt love envelope them. This was their family.

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