Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Banned Books Week 2021 - Spotlight on a favorite: The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry has made the 100 most frequently challenged books list for three decades (since the ALA started collecting data in 1990), in 1990-1999, 2000-2009, and 2010-2019

Released in 1993, it has been one of the most controversial books in American schools. Between 1990 and 1999, The Giver ranked 11th on the list of the books most frequently requested for removal. In the 2000s it was 23rd, just two spots below To Kill a Mockingbird. Just under one-third of all challenges of The Giver (for which the outcome was reported) resulted in a removal. The state that has seen the most attempts at removal is Texas, but the book has also been challenged in Massachusetts, Washington, and many other states all over the country. 

The most frequently cited reasons to challenge The Giver have been “violence” and claims that the book is “unsuited to [the] age group”— or in other words that it’s too dark for children. Also, "sexually explicit," "Religious Viewpoint," and "Suicide." (Insider, August 15, 2014)

A must-read dystopian novel for any teen, I first read this book in middle school, and then I reread it in high school and college. The main character, a tween named Jonas, is given the important role as ‘Receiver of Memory,’ where he is supposed to retain the beautiful and dark moments others in his community can't see. He can see color in a black-and-white world as well as the environment, animals, human emotions and past experiences. The book sheds light on the importance of freedom and living life as one chooses to, but the message goes deeper than that. Valuing our relationships with our friends, family, and colleagues in the real world is a gift. Oftentimes, we lose sight of what makes our life beautiful, even though it is right in front of us. And those lessons are conveyed elegantly in this book, from start to finish. Life is spontaneous and crazy, and there shouldn’t be someone telling us how to live our life when we have the ability to carve our own destiny. Banning this book would be a loss for children, not a gain – Sudiksha Kochi  (from a USA Today article, September 28, 2021)

My personal experience with the book, to touch on what Kochi talked about above, was the gut-wrenching reality of family not meaning what it means in our society. Honestly, it made me cry. The story's focus on personal freedom and choice, and the value of relationships, made for a truly powerful read. Certainly an important read for today's young people. 

Read my review of The Giver here

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1 comment:

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  1. I never got the opportunity to read this one while a teen, unfortunately. I read it for the first time 8-10 years ago and it just didn't have the impact I was hoping for. My son will be reading it this year and I'm excited to see how he reacts to it. I'm thinking I'll re-read it with him and see if I can pick more things out the second time around. Thanks for sharing this!

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