• Amber Chandler

Reading With Purpose: The Giver

My favorite book to teach is probably A Prayer for Owen Meany, but given that I no longer have access to AP Lit students on a regular basis, my next favorite book to teach is Lois Lowry's The Giver. I've taught this book for about 15 years, and my students do extensive Utopia Projects, which I've written about in many blogs like this one for Middleweb, this one for ShareMyLesson, and in my book The Flexible ELA Classroom.

However, this year I'm shifting my focus a little bit to frontloading the student experience. We've spent some time talking about the multiple approaches to reading a novel, specifically how we can use different lenses. For example, I've told my students, we can read Cinderella as an innocent fairytale (I mean, they might be able to, I can't!), a parable about poverty, or as the fodder for a Feminist Manifesto. They are able to pick up on these ideas pretty quickly since the story is familiar.

I'm now asking them to apply a lens of their choosing to reading The Giver. This slideshow offers them four lenses to read the novel with a specific purpose in mind: this essay test. I've noticed how much they struggle to provide evidence of their arguments when writing about a novel, so this approach is meant to help them trace their thoughts about a particular theme the novel addresses or to do a deconstruction approach for option #4.

They've settled into reading and taking notes, and though I doubt this lens business makes much sense now, I'm excited to see how it helps them formulate an argument at the end of December. I'll keep you posted.