Wednesday, March 19

The Giver!

I used to teach The Giver in my Adolescent Literature class. My college students LOVED the book. I distinctly remember a colleague expressing some concerns about the book when her daughter was in the 4th grade and it was on the reading list. I appreciate/d her concerns. It's one of those books that has a particular quantitative reading level but can operate on a much different level for the qualitative and, if you're thinking about text complexity, for the reader and task.

So the trailer for The Giver is out and is going to generate some singular excitement about this film.

Jeff Bridges. Katie Holmes. Taylor Swift. Meryl Streep.


Sorry, I lost my head there for a moment. She doesn't have a big part, but who cares? It's Meryl Streep. In fact, the cast is pretty awesome. I would love to think it's because the book is such an amazing book, but we'll have to wait to see how Mr. Weinstein and company treated the text.

What I'm hoping for is a sort of revival of talking about this book, the role of government and the lengths to which some might go to help be sure "the people" don't make wrong decisions. I can't help but think about Divergent and The Hunger Games. Each of the dystopian novels give us a group of people who believe they know what's best for everyone and who let power go to their heads.

Perhaps as our students reflect on what's happening in Ukraine and Crimea, they will think about leadership and power and democracy and why it's important to vote, why it's important for everyone to have a vote, etc. Perhaps they'll engage in conversations about lobbyists, PACS, and SuperPACS and all the millionaires and billionaires who can help buy someone a place in the US government. Maybe they'll even talk about Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery."

Maybe they'll talk about roles and responsibilities in communities and societies.

Maybe they'll think about how they can help implement some changes in their communities. Maybe they'll have conversations about what it means to be tolerant and diverse. The list of possibilities is endless.

When I used the book in my Adolescent Literature class, I invited students to write the chapter after the last chapter in the book. Some of them struggled with that because it seemed to lead not to a tidy conclusion, but to more questions and more possibilities. Exactly.