Least Tern > English Class > MS Fiction

Monet - The Cart: Road Under Snow at Honfleur
Bonnard - Mademoiselle Andre Bonnard with her DogsCezanne - Flowers in a Delft VaseVan Gogh - The Painter on the Road to Terascon

a novel by Lois Lowry

An Independent Reading Guide prepared for Middle School by Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain

Web Background | Background Activities | Vocabulary | Assignments | Extensions | For the Teacher (includes Resources)


Web Background:

IPL: The Author Page: Lois Lowry - includes notes from the author
About Lois Lowry : From the ALA

Background Activities: Before you read the book, you should complete each of the following activities:
~ Rent and watch with an adult one of the following "future" films: FutureWorld, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, The Matrix or a film recommended by the adult with whom you will watch it.. Discuss the film with the adult and write in your journal about "the vision of the future" shown in the film.
~ Read Bradbury's " All Summer in a Day."  Respond to the story in your journal. The story is currently online here, or your Teacher will provide you with a copy.
~ Make a list in your journal of at least 10 memories you have of your life - 5 happy ones and 5 sad ones.
~ Interview someone in your family about a "family story" that has been passed down at least 2 generations (from your grandparents or earlier).  Record the story in your journal, on tape, or in a digital video. Film the story teller if possible.

Vocabulary:  You are responsible for the definition, spelling, pronunciation (accent mark), and correct use of each word. You should create a file which contains word - definition - a good sentence illustrating meaning - part of speech as used in the sentence. I recommend that you learn 10 words each week.

to jeer to fret to infringe (on)
palpable chastisement prestige
anthem to drone retroactive
to wheedle regulated crescendo
apprehensive to gravitate (toward) meticulously
nurturer serene integral
disposition to chortle tentatively
transgression commotion obsolete
prior (to) to hover (over) wryly
to confide exuberant hueless


AssignmentsComplete these in order, as you read. All 5 assignments should take two weeks. Remember that you should also be adding to your reading journal every night.

1. Chapter 1: Create a set of "standard apologies" for 5 student transgressions found in your school. Post them prominently on the wall and drill your classmates in saying them. After the drill, write a paragraph about the responses of your classmates to the activity.

2. Chapters 2-5:  Think about how, in your community culture, you differentiate between age groups. Select any 4 age groups and describe briefly how they are clearly "differentiated".  You may do this in a set of short paragraphs OR develop it into an essay OR create concept map.

3. Chapter 6--9: Write about your own future.  In a good, short essay, tell me what plans/expectations others have for you, what your dreams are, what plans you have for yourself.  Be sure to add a concluding short paragraph.

4. Full novel: Gather a list of "separateness" or difference as it applies to Jonas and Gabriel.  Make sure your list is specific in reference to plot events or incidents, and that it is in chronological order.

5. Ending:  Research the names Jonas and Gabriel (both are biblical).  You may, if you wish, do this by interviewing someone who knows Bible lore.  Write up your findings in 2 good paragraphs which relate the names to the characters in the novel OR develop a concept map.


Extensions: Select one extension and submit it with your reading journal. You must have an OK 'd Project Plan before you begin. You will be asked to speak for 10 minutes about your project.

~ Rent and watch the Judy Garland movie, The Wizard of Oz (the original, if you can find it). Create an Inspiration concept map comparing the world of OZ to the community in The Giver.  You should cluster your comparison around 3-4 general topics:  examples: color, language, good&bad, variety.  You should put a short summary paragraph in a text box on the concept map.
~ Select any one piece of classical music. Listen to it with your eyes closed. Then listen to it again and as you listen, either draw or paint one large or several small pictures conveying its meaning to you. OR write creatively or concretely about what it means to you. You may wish to combine the two ideas in a multimedia project.  Be prepared to discuss how this activity relates to the novel.
~ Create your own "utopian future." You may describe it in an essay, use it as the setting for a short story, or make a video tape with your friends and family. Be prepared to discuss the "utopian" vision in the novel.
~ Create an interactive sense memory HTML document, each cell of which, when selected, will reveal a short poem, short story, or annotated graphic which describes or presents the memory. Use the Sense Memory scaffold (download and edit page) or create your own presentation.
~ Study the treatment of the very young (to age 2) and the very old in the novel. Through your own research and at least two interviews (one to cover each age group), compare the novel's concepts to those in your community.  You may present your project in text, video, an electronic format, or a combination of media.
~ Study color blindness - If possible, view the video "Island of the Color Blind" and respond to it in your reading journal. Use Internet, electronic and print sources. Present the results of your research dynamically. Be sure to include the "tie-in" to the novel!
Sources: How Do Things Look to Colorblind People? , What is Colorblindness and the Different Types , Color Blind Island

For the Teacher:

In the four years since I first taught this novel, and created the original of this page, both the novel and technology have taken leaps. A Google search for the novel will produce more hits than most modern YA novels. I have selected some of the ones I think are the most reliable and list them below. Why is the novel so popular now? Its themes of death, "big brother," unknown futures, questioning, and insecurity with "pat" answers speak to the last 4 years in the adult world. As with all novels, however, it is wise to be cautious of about teaching children an adult view. The Resources selected range from the simplistic to the visual - teachers can frame this novel (like Nothing But the Truth) in many ways, any of which can preach and shape a student's understanding. I prefer to think of this novel an opportunity for student discovery of both relationships (artistic, cultural, historic, literary) and questioning. For this reason, it is the perfect novel for the technology-rich classroom, but also one that requires students to communicate discoveries and thoughts in some way. If the technology is available to you, an online discussion would augment the reading of this novel.

The Resources will guide you to several on-line activities for student discovery. You will find also some "stay at home" technology and "paper" activities. Select one and do it with zeal.

Background -

Extensions - Because this is a book of the senses, as well as of reflection, my Extensions ask students to reflect upon and analyze their own "sense worlds". Because the novel deals thematically and dramatically with the conflict between young world - old world, and with the failure of communication, my Extensions ask students to dialogue with parents and other adults.

The Island of the Colorblind (book containing an essay of that name about the island) is available from Amazon.com. The video should be available through the library system.

Online Resources (selected list)

Least Tern

Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain 12/16/03