CommonLit Secondary Classrooms The Giver: Enhance your Novel Study with these Lesson Planning Resources

These high interest poems, news articles, and informational texts are the perfect compliment to a novel unit on The Giver.

CommonLit offers over 3,000 reading lessons in its digital library. Each lesson comes complete with standards-aligned comprehension questions, discussion questions, and lesson planning ideas for teachers. These lessons are proven to help students build reading comprehension skills.

In addition to our individual reading lessons, we also offer Book Pairings. These are sets of texts that can be used to compliment novel-based instruction. Today, we’ll be talking about CommonLit’s Book Pairings for Lois Lowry’s dystopian masterpiece, The Giver.

A screenshot of the Book Pairing Page.

We’re excited to highlight some of the ways that you can use CommonLit’s Book Pairings to build students’ background knowledge, compare and contrast skills, and boost engagement.

Build Critical Background Knowledge with these Informational Texts

While The Giver is a work of fiction, it draws inspiration from world events. By reading these texts, your students will gain a deeper appreciation for the novel, and make valuable text-to-world connections.

Total Control In North Korea” by Jessica McBirney

In this article, students learn about the totalitarian government in North Korea. This article outlines the government’s complete control over the economy, military, education, and the people’s access to information. The article also explains the dramatic ramifications for those who attempt to challenge the status quo.

Introduce this article after students have completed Chapter 4 of The Giver. By this point in the novel, students will be able to draw parallels between Jonas and his family and life in North Korea.

Once your class has read the article, compare the regime in North Korea to the one in The Giver. In what ways does the government in North Korea have total control over its citizens? How does government control in The Giver affect Jonas’ community?  Have students discuss the implication for those who dissent from the strict rules of these two communities.  

Nazi Germany’s ‘Euthanasia’ Program” by The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

This short article details the horrific Nazi program for killing sick, disabled, and elderly people begining in the 1930s. During the Holocaust, the model for genocide of European Jews was based on a program entitled "The Final Solution,” which aimed to “purify” the German population.

Have students read this article  after they finish Chapter 20 of The Giver. At this point in the novel,  Jonas discovers his father’s role in the community and what “release” really means. Ask your students to compare and contrast the Nazi’s motives for euthanasia and the Community’s reasons for the “release” of young children.

Make Connections to Poetry with your Class

We’ve carefully selected poems that allow students to make thematic connections across literary texts. Ask your students to find figurative language and imagery in the poems that personifies the themes of the novel.

Burning a Book” by William Stafford

This poem considers the act of censorship through book burning in a new light. Stafford asks his readers to consider the significance of sharing ideas and  ignorance and sharing ideas.

Introduce this poem after students have read Chapter 13 of The Giver, this section highlights themes of censorship and ignorance. Have students ask each other how Stafford’s poem raises issues around the danger of ignorance. How does Jonas feel about the Community’s ambivalence?

The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

Published in 1916, and one of the most well known poems in the world, “The Road Not Taken” allows readers to consider the choices they make every day and when it is important to diverge from the crowd.

Introduce this poem after students have completed the novel, in order to discuss the ways Jonas’ character has developed. Ask students to draw comparisons between the decisions that Jonas makes within the novel and the path Frost takes toward Elsewhere. How does the imagery and language of Frost’s poem aid the theme?

Make Connections with these Non-Fiction Texts

The Giver is a thematically rich novel that raises many important questions about the world. For example, the book questions whether surveillance is a force of good or evil, whether arranged marriages are good or bad, and whether people have free will.

With these supplemental texts, you’ll be able to push your students’ thinking, build reading comprehension skills, and encourage them to make new connections as they think about The Giver through a new lens.

Conformity” by Charlotte Harrison

This passage discusses the motivation to conform to group norms and why people tend to adjust their beliefs and behaviors to match those around them.

You may introduce this text to the class once they have read Chapter 19, and discovered the role that Jonas’ father plays in the Community.

Have your students list aspects of Jonas’ community that comply with the status quo. What are the outcomes of this blind conformity?

A screenshot of the passage "Conformity" by Charlotte Harrison

Drones Put Spying Eyes in the Sky” by Stephen Ornes

This article describes scientific advancements in the world of drones, or unmanned flying robots. Recently, scientists have begun to use drones – once exclusively used for military advancement – in research and conservation efforts.

You can read this text with their class after assigning Chapter 3 of The Giver, because this chapter introduces the sense of high-surveillance in the community where Jonas lives. Prompt a discussion about how technology and surveillance can dictate and shape the way we behave. Ask the students to consider Jonas’ anxiety when the plane flies overhead, as well how he feels after the loudspeaker admonishes him for taking an apple home.

Would You Marry a Stranger?” by Jessica McBirney

In this article, the author provides an overview of arranged marriage today, taking into account cultural trends and historic practices that have shaped the tradition.

Read this article after students have read Chapter 6, when Jonas attends the Matching of Spouses. This will allow your students to deepen their conversation about social norms and cultural expectations around marriage.

Ask students to read the text and compare the real cultural practice of arranged marriages to the fictional Matching of Spouses in The Giver. Does the informational article give us any insights into the real practice of arranged marriage that might help to understand why spouses are “Matched” within The Giver?


Check out our CommonLit 360 Unit for 7th graders if you are looking for an entire unit on The Giver. The unit includes chapter comprehension guides, full lesson plans, writing prompts and much more!

Next Steps

Looking for more great Book Pairing? Browse the CommonLit Library for more in depth Book Pairings!

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