The Giver Newbery Medal Winner
The Giver by Lois Lowry-1994 Newbery Medal Winner I chose The Giver by Lois Lowry because according to the American Library Association, it is one of the most challenged books in the nation. The Giver was written by Lois Lowry, published in 1993, and awarded a Newbery Medal for that year. It is a controversial book because of its violent and sexual passages that some adults have deemed inappropriate for children, as well as for its mature themes of euthanasia, infanticide, and suicide. However, I believe The Giver is a great book for children because it allows for them to learn and explore their own beliefs on controversial issues.
The Giver is a deserving book for the Newbery Medal because it follows the basic guidelines of being published in English in the United States, is an “original, stand-alone work” by the author, and it also relates to young readers and contributes to American literature through its mature themes, original plot, strong, central characters, and utopia-like setting. In The Giver, the characters live in a place that seems like an ideal world, one where there is no poverty, war, disease or suffering. Everything is in order and under control, and the people have no worries or cares.
The community cannot see color and there are no climatic variations. To ensure that the devastation of the world and the past is not relived, the community is isolated from the rest of the world, also known as “Elsewhere”. To keep the community a cohesive unit, everyone is assigned a position to uphold. The main character is a twelve-year-old boy named Jonas, who is selected by the community to be the “Receiver of Memories”. Only the “Giver” knows the truth and memories of the past, and now he must pass on the burden of these memories to Jonas through the process of touch.
According to the ALSC organization, The Giver must have distinguished qualities to receive the Newbery Medal, meaning it is marked by conspicuous excellence and is individually distinct. The Giver must also display a respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations. This book has its own eminence not only because of the story itself, but also because it has become known as controversial and challenging. The Giver contains two powerful themes, both of which help children understand the importance of freedom in their lives. The main theme asserts that when total security is achieved, freedom is ultimately sacrificed.
A secondary theme illustrates the concept that emotions can only truly be experienced if opposing, negative emotions can also be experienced. This is the reason why the position of “Receiver” is necessary. The people in the community have stopped feeling or truly experiencing any emotions. Only the Receiver can truly feel anything because he has the memories of the bad as well as the good. The community lives only in the present, which gives the people a narrow perspective of life. The people are naive and have no ability for intellectual growth because they cannot gain knowledge from past memories.
Our memories are an integral part of what makes each of us unique and special. Memories help us understand our past and hopefully learn from it to create a better future. Denied those kinds of memory, the people in The Giver are unable to form individual identities and make real connections to others. It is essential that children understand the idea that it is okay to make mistakes when they are growing up because from negative experiences comes growth, learning, and positive experiences. In order for these themes to be credible and eminent, they must be illustrated by strong, believable central characters like Jonas.
Jonas has the qualities it takes to be a good friend, and these are the qualities that young readers can recognize and identify with. To better understand the themes contained in this book, it is crucial that children understand the setting of the community that has resulted by taking away all unpleasant influences and memories. When Jonas is escaping his secure world at the end, and Lowry describes the new setting he is traveling into, young readers are able to appreciate and understand how much of their physical world they take for granted—a world Jonas has never experienced first-hand.
This book seems best suited for children of middle school years or older, since the themes it explores are too complex to be fully appreciated by younger readers. Children in their middle school years struggle with roles of independence as they are growing up—they want to be independent and free to pursue their own interests, but they also want someone else to take care of them and keep them from experiencing pain or sadness. This book is valuable to children because it can help them better understand the principles of freedom and security and the importance each holds in their lives now and in the future.
The story of The Giver and the character of Jonas teaches children the dangers of allowing the desire for security to overwhelm freedom of choice. The book ends on an ambiguous note, and Lowry leaves it up to readers to decide what happens to Jonas. This helps foster creativity in young readers and promotes discussion because ultimately the reader has some freedom of choice and they can draw their own conclusions about what happened to Jonas. Themes of independence, courage, and growth are popular among Newbery Medal winners.
Lois Lowry also won a Newbery Medal for Number the Stars, a story that focuses on themes of friendship, bravery, and the courage to escape Denmark during the Nazi occupation. The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson portrays realistic emotions, relationships, and friendships, and helps children understand how to cope with problems, such as death—contrasting the society in The Giver, where emotions and death are avoided. Themes of discovery and identity are even explored in From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler by E.
L. Konigsburg, an exciting, mystery of a girl who wants change in her life and to run away from her current world. No matter what the setting or plot of the story, Newberry Medal winners address the constant inner and outer struggles that children go through as they grow up. All of these books are Newbery Medal winners because they are not only entertaining for children to read, but they actually have an impact on children’s lives and help them learn about the experiences they will encounter in their daily lives.
The actions some adults take to ban The Giver takes away the freedom of speech, the freedom to read, the freedom of expression, and the freedom to learn and explore—abilities we want our children to possess as they grow up. The banning of The Giver is ironically similar to the actions of the community—taking away all freedom, choice, and controversy—and enhances the idea that a seemingly good and “perfect” world in reality creates a stifling dystopia. The Giver teaches children that massive destruction is not only caused by wars, it is also caused in other ways.
It is caused when human principles are repressed. We can massively destroy ourselves by destroying love, choice and liberty. In conclusion, The Giver is a deserving Newbery Medal winner because of its complex themes, its believable, powerful writing style, its carefully built plot, and its completely realized world. Children are encouraged to view events from Jonah’s perspective, and explore the community, ideas, events, and experiences that shape his identity, and then further shape their own.