The Giver Critical Thinking Activities

The Giver Novel Study...

By Lois Lowry 

This novel study is to be assigned.  There are two different novel studies that you may be assigned:

1) A regular written novel study(hand writing or word processed).

2) An electronic novel study.

There is also a  Giver Vocabulary List that you will be asked to use.

Introduction: Just imagine if we could start over and create perfect communities.  How would we want things done?  What would we change in order to achieve “perfection”?  What would we have to give up?

In Jonas' perfect world, everything is under control.  There is no war or fear or pain. But when Jonas learns the truth, there is no turning back. In a Utopian community where there are no choices—where everyone has his or her place in the world assigned according to gifts and interests--the time has come for 12-year-old Jonas to become the new Receiver of Memory. He will be the one to bear the collective memories of a society that lives only in the present, where "Sameness " is the rule. But Jonas soon recognizes the losses and discovers the lie that supports his community. He decides he will change his world--but he cannot predict how that change will come about, or what that change will mean for himself and the "newchild" Gabriel, whom he has resolved to protect.

The Giver: Written Novel Study During our novel study, we will do short chapter assignments, as well as some spelling tests and grammar lessons. The major project in this unit is the novel study contract, where you choose a number of assignments to do from a long list of possible assignments. 

Novel Study Directions

  • All written answers must be done in draft and then completed using the writing process , so that you have both a draft copy and a separate published copy.
  • In the published copy there cannot be any spelling or punctuation errors.
  • All written answers should be in handwriting and double spaced.
  • If you are using a computer, then you must follow the ALL the golden rules .  No exceptions.
  • You must do all questions and related activities in the order that you read the book.  That is, you must do questions related to the section that you reading.
  • Read each section carefully. Think critically and carefully.  I want imaginative, creative and THOUGHTFUL ideas.
  • You will be give a due date for this assignment to be completed.  It is large part of your language arts mark this term.  No lates will be accepted, which means that you will receive an incomplete if you miss the deadline.

Written Novel Study Assignments



  1. Why does Jonas find it unsettling that he and Gabriel have similar eyes?
  2. Why do people take pills for the Stirrings?
HIGHER LEVEL THINKING SKILLS (Paragraph answers - at least 5 sentences of critical thinking)
  1. What does it mean when someone is released?
  2. How would you describe life in Jonas' community?
  3. Why don't Jonas and Lily know what "animal" means?
  4. Do you think there are cars, trucks, planes, buses, or trains within this community? Explain.
  5. Why might Father's interest in Gabe cause problems?
  6. Why do families tell one another their feelings and dreams each day?
  7. Why is interdependence fostered in the community?
  8. In what way do you think the apple changed when Jonas and Asher were tossing it?
LITERARY ELEMENTS (One to three sentences)
  1. Significant detail: On the first page, how does the author alert you that there is something out of the ordinary about a plane flying over the community?
  2. Suspense: How does the author keep the reader as well as Jonas in suspense about his Assignment?
JOURNAL RESPONSE (Do only one question in your journal - best copy -one page in paragraph format each paragraph starting with a topic sentence)
  1. How do you feel about the "standard practices" and "rituals" practiced in the community? Why? How do you feel about the punishment given for infractions?
  2. Would you want your future to be decided by others? Why or why not?
  3. Did you have a "comfort object" when you were younger? What did you call it?
  4. How do you feel about the way families are created in this community?

CHAPTERS 8 - 15 

  1. Why does Jonas feel a separateness after the Ceremony?
  2. Why doesn't Jonas know about snow?
  3. How does Jonas change Gabe's life?
  4. Why are there speakers in every dwelling?
HIGHER LEVEL THINKING SKILLS (Paragraph answers - at least 5 sentences of critical thinking)
  1. Why does Jonas feel terror at not having an assignment at the beginning of the Ceremony of Twelve?
  2. What's the difference between being assigned and selected?
  3. What do you think happened to the girl who was chosen ten years ago?
  4. Why are people's homes called dwellings?
  5. Why does Jonas find the instruction about lying so disturbing.?
  6. Why don't people have more than three books?
  7. Why does The Giver say that making choices would be frightening for people?
  8. Why does Jonas begin to feel frustrated and angry?
  9. Why is The Receiver forbidden to share books or memories with other people?
  10. Do you think The Giver is happy with his life?
  11. What war does Jonas experience?
LITERARY ELEMENTS (One to three sentences)
  1. Foreshadowing: How does the author foreshadow Jonas' gift?
JOURNAL RESPONSE (Do only one question in your journal - best copy -one page in paragraph format each paragraph starting with a topic sentence)
  1. What is your reaction to the instructions Jonas receives?
  2. What would it be like to five in a world where you didn't experience color, sunshine, or animals?

CHAPTERS 19 - 23 
  1. Why does Jonas lie to his parents about using the word "love?"
  2. Why was Rosemary's release a disaster for the community?  Why was Rosemary's death a disaster for The Giver?
  3. What are some of the feelings that people in the community have not known?
  4. What is the hearing-beyond that The Giver speaks of.
  5. How does Jonas give the people memories?
HIGHER LEVEL THINKING SKILLS (Paragraph answers - at least 5 sentences of critical thinking)
  1. What memory (holiday) is The Giver's favorite?
  2. Why does Jonas see love in a family as dangerous?
  3. Why can't Jonas communicate with other children any more?
  4. Why do people assume that twins would be identical in all things?
  5. Why is Jonas' father so cheery when he releases the twin?
LITERARY ELEMENTS (One to three sentences) 
  1. Author's purpose:Why do you think the author called the book The Giver instead of The Receiver? 
JOURNAL RESPONSE (Do only one question in your journal - best copy -one page in paragraph format each paragraph starting with a topic sentence)
  1. What are some memories you would give to someone you care about?
  2. How would you feel about not living with your own family but with one to which you were assigned?
  3. How do you feel about the book's ending? What will happen to The Giver? the community? Jonas and Gabriel?

YES YOU MUST DO THEM - You must complete 40 marks worth of assignments from this list. Make sure you write at least the amount suggested.  A paragraph means at least five complete sentences.  These will count as bonus marks towards your final mark.) 1. Task: (paragraph 5 marks )
Write a well-constructed paragraph that outlines the choices in life that you take for granted. Include a topic sentence, supporting information and concluding sentence.

2. Task: (persuasive paragraph 5 marks)
Imagine that you were in the society in which Jonas lived. What role would you want to assume:
a twelve
a nurturer
a birthmother
In a well-constructed paragraph, write a persuasive argument for why you are well suited for that role. Include your reasons for requesting that assignment.

3. Task: (explanatory paragraph 5 marks)
Make a list of the roles that were mentioned in Jonas' society.   In your opinion, what additional roles are needed in that society. Explain, why those roles are needed.

4. Task: ( paragraph 5 marks)
Would you be willing to take the role of Receiver? Why or why not?

5. Task: (script at least two pages double spaced 20 marks)
Rewrite the story with a different ending.

6. Task: (descriptive paragraph 5 marks)
In a paragraph, describe one of the following concepts:

7. Task: (personal writing - one page double spaced 10 marks)
Write a diary or journal entry for one of the characters.

8. Task: (expository paragraph 5 marks)
In a paragraph, explain the responsibilities of one of the following roles:
The Giver
Other role of your choice

9. Task: (personal writing - essay-two pages 20 marks)
In Jonas' society, the community was more important than the individual. Write an essay about what you think is important about being a unique individual.

10. Task: (descriptive and expository paragraph 5 marks)
Each year a Ritual ceremony was held.  Make a list of what happens at the different ceremonies for each group. For those ceremonies which aren't described in the book, make them up. Explain the procedure for each person being assigned a role.

11. Task: (comparative essay-two pages 20 marks)
The community in The Giver had some positive features as well as negative ones. Make 2 columns. On one side list the positive features and on the other the negative. Do they balance out? Why? Write a comparative essay on the advantages and disadvantages of living in Jonas' society.

12. Task: (persuasive argument-one page 10 marks)
Prepare a persuasive argument for the advantage of experiencing something (i.e., seeing, smelling, hearing, loving )over the disadvantage of never experiencing it.

13. Task: (science fiction essay 2 pages 20 marks)
The Giver can be viewed as a science fiction novel. Write your own version of this book by putting the story and characters in a different period of time and location. Make an outline of chapters you would include in the book, characters, setting and plot.

14. Task: (picture book 2 pages 20 marks)
Make a picture book. Think about games you played when you were a child, what you were afraid of, and what your first time at trying things was like. Use one of these memories as a basis for your story. Make colourful illustrations to accompany your book.

15. Task: (comic strip 2 pages 20 marks)
The "book The Giver was devoid of humour. Think of an incident that might have been funny. Look for humour in one of the everyday situations and create a comic strip about it.

16. Task: (brochure 2 pages 20 marks)
Create a brochure advertising the advantages in living in Jonas' community.

17. Task: (brochure 2 pages 20 marks)
Create a brochure for one of the ceremonies in Jonas' community.

18. Task: (25 marks)
Develop a glossary. That is, write a definition for each of the vocabulary words in the Vocabulary List (See Below).

19. Task: (newspaper report 2 pages 20 marks)
Write a newspaper account of the Ritual ceremony or the mysterious aeroplane flying over the community.

20. Task: (advertisement one page 10 marks)
Make an advertisement for a fashion line that is being promoted in Jonas' community. Include a drawing.

21. Task: (advertisement one page 10 marks)
Make an advertisement for the Real Estate section advertising a dwelling in the community.

22. Task: (letter to the editor one page 10 marks)
Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper explaining the need for order in the community.

23. Task: (letter to the advice column one page 10 marks)
Write a letter to the advice column about a problem you are experiencing. Write a response to your letter.

24. Task: (formal letter one page 10 marks)
Write a formal letter to The Giver stating your reasons for not wanting a role that you have been assigned.

25. Task: (friendly letter one page 10 marks)
Write a friendly letter to The Giver sharing your gratitude for being assigned a specific role.

26. Task: (postcard one page 10 marks)
Design and write a postcard from your community.

27. Task: (free verse poem one page 10 marks)
Create a free verse poem about one of these topics:
Colours of the Rainbow
The Sound of Music

28. Task: (concrete poem one page 10 marks)
Create a concrete poem, a piece of poetry that has a physical existence, about an object or place in the community.

29.Task: (expository paragraph 5 marks)
Choose something that you learned to do or have done, such as riding a bicycle, skateboarding, playing chess, operating a VCR. Write a set of instructions to show others how to do the activity.

30. Task: (free choice marks to be assigned)
Choose a format of your choice to describe, explain or tell something about the book.

The Giver Vocabulary List:    intrigued  obsolete solace  distraught profound transgression  retroactive  benign  humiliation  unanimous  requisitioned  lethargy permeated  ruefully  palpable  scrupulously  tantalizing  indolence  nondescript  excruciating  quizzically  reprieve  unendurable  carnage   luminous  ironic  meticulously  augmented  nurturer  reassuringly  exempted  tabulated  conveyance  sinuous  relinquished   navigational  buoyancy  apprehensive languid prestige remorse jaunty compel tentatively indulgently  chaos murky admonition acceleration exuberant grotesquely gravitate treacherously adherence crescendo avert petulantly ominous infringed pampered impeded chastise anguish pervaded podium ecstatic essential designate

Electronic Novel Study Assignments

In the electronic novel study section, you will choose to complete one of the activities below to represent you knowledge and understanding of The Giver electronically. 

1)  DESIGN A MICROSOFT POWERPOINT PRESENTATION (15 slides - at least 5 Content Slides, and at least 5 Multimedia slides)

  • that clearly describes in sentences, personal drawings, clip art pictures, symbols, personal photos, personal video/audio, or music five things that make your life meaningful — things without which life would not be the same.
  • Use a storyboard to plan the content and layout of your presentation.
  • Enhance presentation by adding graphics, music, inserting a movie clip or any type of multimedia available to you


  • using Microsoft Publisher 97 that clearly relates to an event or events in the novel The Giver.
  • Use a storyboard to plan the content and layout of your publication.
  • Enhance your publication by adding graphics, music, inserting a movie clip or any type of multimedia available to you.


  • Use your knowledge of the events from the novel, The Giver, to help you design a Web site using a storyboard.
  • The content of this Web site must clearly connect with literary elements of the novel The Giver and include a brief prequel or sequel to the novel The Giver.
  • Use a storyboard to plan the content and layout of your Web site.
  • Enhance your Web site by adding graphics, music, inserting a movie clip or any type of multimedia available to you.
  • Link your Web site to this page.


The Giver by Lois Lowry is a teacher’s dream novel. The complex dystopian plot line, dynamic characters, and thought-provoking themes provide so many opportunities for teachers to foster text-to-self and text-to-world connections.

Critical thinking activities that allow students to empathize with the characters are a must-have in any novel unit.  Below are 8 of my favorite activities for The Giver that do just that.

  1. The Ceremony of Twelve Simulation

This activity is always a class favorite. It allows students to empathize with Jonas and his friends as they are assigned careers by the Chief Elder during the Ceremony of Twelve.

How This Activity Works:

Students are welcomed into the classroom by a colourful poster for The Ceremony of Twelve. Once they are all settled, immediately transform into The Chief Elder.  Address the class explaining that although they have spent the last 11 years learning to fit in and standardize their behavior, that this ceremony will celebrate their differences.  Then, one-by-one present each student with their new job and a designated card that states all of the roles and responsibilities.  After each student gets their assignment, have the rest of the class say in unison, “Thank you for your childhood.”

Give your students a choice of assignment. They can either fill out an application for a job switch or write a journal discussing their feelings on their new role in the community!

Try this activity in your classroom by clicking here => Ceremony of Twelve Activity

  1. Seeing Beyond Activity

In The Giver, Jonas has the capacity to ‘see beyond’. This means that Jonas, unlike the other members of the community, can use his senses from memory that allow him the ability to see color.  This fun, interactive class activity allows students to step into Jonas’ shoes to understand his ability to see beyond.

How This Activity Works:

Students enter the classroom to a colorful poster welcoming them to Seeing Beyond. Ask them to circulate the room to different areas that have hidden image optical illusions. Some will be able to see the hidden pictures, while others will not.

After the activity, students work with partners to discuss how they felt when they were or were not able to see the hidden image. They will also discuss how it felt to successfully or unsuccessfully help someone else see the image and how this relates to the novel.

Check out this activity by clicking here ==> Seeing Beyond Class Activity

  1. Memory Transmission Activity

In The Giver, Jonas in his role as The Receiver is transmitted the memories of the past from The Giver. This simulation of the memory transmissions allows students to empathize with both Jonas and The Giver as they will both receive and transmit memories. It has always been a hit with my students!

How This Activity Works:

Put a colorful poster on the door welcoming your class to the The Giver’s Annex. The teacher is then transformed into Giver and gives each group of students descriptions of new memories that Jonas will receive.

Some of the memories involve painful events of historical significance like slavery, and the Holocaust, while others involve more positive memories like Neil Armstrong’s arrival on the moon! Students discuss prompting questions that will have them understand the value of keeping the world’s memories safe.  After all the memories have transmitted, they will shift into the role of The Giver.  In this role they will transmit one important historical memory to Jonas of their choosing.

You can download this FREE activity by clicking here ==> Memory Transmission Activity

  1. The House Of Old Activity

The elderly in The Giver are seemingly treated with the utmost respect and care in The House of Old, but the reader soon learns that things are not as positive as they appear. The elders of the community are killed, a.k.a released, from society. This activity allows students to examine how the elderly are treated in different cultures/countries in the world and how this compares to how they are treated in Jonas’ community.

How This Activity Works:

Students will enter the classroom to a colorful poster welcoming them to The House Of Old.  They participate in small group discussions with information cards that provide details about how the elderly are treated in different cultures. When they are done, they fill in the blank card with how the elderly are treated in the novel and share with the rest of the class!

Try this activity with your class by clicking here ==> House Of Old Activity

  1. Dream Sharing Activity

In Jonas’ community, everyone must share any dreams they have with their family members.   On the surface, dream sharing seems like a good way to keep open communication about inner feelings. In reality, however, it is another way that the government can keep control of the thoughts of their citizens and squash any independent thinking. This activity allows students to interpret their own dreams and consider what deeper meaning their dreams may have.

How This Activity Works:

After reading chapter 6, students are greeted at the door with a poster welcoming them to Dream Sharing. Break the class up into groups of 4 and tell each group to imagine they are family members. Each group receives dream prompt cards with common topics for dreams that have symbolic meanings. Each student shares a dream they remember which connects with one of the topics. If they can’t connect with any topic, they can share any dream they remember.

After everyone has shared their dreams, give each group the Dream Interpretation Cards that explain the symbolic significance of each dream topic.

Students discuss and reflect on how it felt to reveal a dream and consider whether or not this would be a good practice in their everyday life.

Want to try this activity in your class? Click here ==> Dream Sharing Activity

  1. A World Without Pain Activity

In Jonas’ community, members are sheltered from feeling any physical or emotional pain. While this theoretically seems like a peaceful way to live, Jonas soon learns that feeling no pain desensitizes people and doesn’t allow them to appreciate positive emotions. From pain, people are also able to learn from mistakes and avoid making those same mistakes again in the future. This activity brings this idea to the forefront by showing students a real-life example of someone who feels no pain.

How This Activity Works:

Students work in groups to read information about people who feel no physical pain (you could have them research Gabby Gingras or Ashlyn Blocker). As a group, students discuss whether or not they would like to life a life without physical pain and what challenges they might face if they chose yes. Then, they work with their group to brainstorm a list of advantages and disadvantages to living a life free of emotional pain.

This is included in my activity bundle for The Giver. Click here ==> Giver Activities

  1. The Telling Of Feelings Activity

Jonas and his family participate in a nightly ritual called “The Telling of Feelings” where each person describes an emotion that they experienced during the day and discusses it with the others.   Help students understand what this ritual would be like by forming classroom families and simulating the practice.

How This Activity Works:

After reading chapter 2, put students into groups. It is preferable that groups consist of two boys and two girls, but it isn’t necessary. Tell them that the group is their new family and they are to assign roles (parents and siblings).

Each student gets a “Feelings Card” that they fill out in preparation for the ritual. Students must choose a precise word that describes a feeling they had that day.   Each member of the group shares their feelings while the other members listen carefully.

After the ritual, have students discuss whether or not they could see themselves doing this with their family, if it would make a family closer and why they think this is an required ritual in Jonas’ community.

This is included in my activity bundle for The Giver. Click here ==> Giver Activities

  1. Family Forming Activity

In The Giver, couples are expected to have 2 children as mandated by the government. While this may seem completely removed from the modern day, this activity will teach students about China’s one-child policy and allow them to consider how it relates to the novel.

How This Activity Works:

This activity works best with a bit of pre-reading discussion.  Students discuss how they would react if the government limited the amount of children they were permitted to have. Ask them if they think this could or would ever happen?

After some discussion, have them read an article or watch a video on China’s one-child policy. I have students record their thoughts as they read using a graphic organizer.  The one I use has them consider their thoughts, what they learned, and something that surprised them. Ask students to make a connection between this policy and the events of the novel.

This is included in my activity bundle for The Giver. Click here ==> Giver Activities

I have compiled all of the resources I use to teach The Giver into acomplete unit plan. It has over 300 pages/ slides included! There are presentations, vocabulary,quizzes, questions, summary cards, activities, analysis notes,  & MUCH more!  Click below to check it out!

Want to pin these ideas for later?  Use the image below, so you can find your way back!


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