The Giver

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Region: North America

Subject: Youth, Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature


Artist: Lois Lowry

Confronting Bodies: Parents, Teachers, and School Boards around the United States

Dates of Action: 1994-2007

Location: All around the United States

Description of Artwork: The Giver is a young adult science fiction "haunting novel in which a boy inhabits a seemingly ideal world: a world without conflict, poverty, unemployment, divorce, injustice, or inequality. It is a time in which family values are paramount, teenage rebellion is unheard of, and even good manners are a way of life. December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve year old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man -the man called only the Giver -he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.

Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs." [1]

The Incident: The Giver was "No. 11 on the American Library Association's list of most challenged books of the 1990s" [2]. Here is a list of some of the places it has been challenged.

1994: Bonita Unified School District in LaVerne and San Dimas, CA, temporarily banned the book due to parental complaints about its appropriateness for children.

1995: The Columbia Falls, MT, school system ordered that the book be restricted to students with parental consent.

1996: The Giver was challenged at the Lakota High school of Cincinnati, OH

1999: The superintendent of Union County, FL removed the book from middle schools after receiving complaints about its content from concerned parents. The county school board ultimately decided overturned the superintendent's decision.

1999: A youth pastor in Avon Lake, OH, requested that the book be restricted to students older than the sixth grade class he was working with, for its graphic descriptions of euthanasia. Ultimately the book remained accessible.

2003: The Giver was listed on a recommended reading list for eighth graders in Blue Springs, MO, which prompted parents to complain about its "lewd" and "twisted" content. It was ultimately maintained.

2006: The book was challenged in the Seaman Unified School District, KS, but ultimately retained.

2007: Two parents who objected to descriptions of "adolescent pill-popping, suicide, and lethal injections" contained in the book started a movement to have it removed from the Mt. Diablo school district in Concord, CA. Their petition was turned down, however. An NCAC letter was sent to the editor appeared in the local newspaper urging the book's inclusion.

Source: and Robert P. Doyle's Banned Books, Challenging Our Freedom to Read (2010)