Lois Lowry

All posts tagged Lois Lowry

4th and 5th grade book club: Historical fiction

Published November 19, 2014 by Dagmar

One of my favorite times of the week is my time with the 4th and 5th grade book club at my school.  We meet on Wednesdays at 1:20 and have trouble getting them to leave the library before my preschool class comes for their library time at 2pm.  Today, instead of talking about our slate of books we’re reading this fall (more to come on that), we chose the books that we’ll read in January when we read historical fiction books.

HistoEliza's Freedomrical fiction is one of my favorite genres, because I love learning about other times and other cultures.  It wasn’t hard for me to create a great list of 10 books from my library.  I presented these books to my students and had them vote on their top six choices for the book club.  These books will be available to them during the month number the starsof January (and yes, some of them will read all six books).  The choices they were given were:

  • Under a War Torn Sky, by L.M. Elliot (World War II)
  • Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (World War II)
  • My Name is Keoko, by Linda Sue Park (World War II)
  • Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai (Vietnam War)
  • A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata (Vietnam War)
  • Sophia’s War, by Avi (Revolutionary War)
  • My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier (Revolutionary War)
  • The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis (Depression)
  • Eliza’s Freedom Road, by Jerdine Nolen (1850s)
  • Jefferson’s Sons, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (1780s-1790s)

jeffersons sonsmy brother samPlease click on the highlighted books to see books I’ve reviewed.

We talked about why authors often pick times of war or conflict as settings for historical fiction.  Then, the students had a chance to look at each of the books and discuss them before they voted on their top six choices to include in the book club “library”.

And the winners were – in order of preference: Eliza’s Freedom Road (winner), Inside Out and Back Again, Jefferson’s Sons, My Brother Sam is A MillionDead, Number the Stars, A Million Shades of Gray.  In my opinion, they really can’t go wrong with any of these titles.inside

Next month, when my students choose the books they’ll read, I’ll be excited to hear what attracted them to the books they selected and what they thought about the books.  Stay tuned!

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Published April 12, 2014 by Dagmar

giverThe Giver, is a book that has stayed with me since I first read it years ago.  It made an equally big impact on my son when I read it to him.  The Giver won the 1994 Newbery Medal.

I read aloud to my sixth graders each week and decided to read them The Giver. I wondered what our students would make of the society Lois Lowry created.  In the Giver, Jonas is a boy living in a society that protects its people from all pain, horror, sadness and loneliness, but also doesn’t allow them to feel happiness, love or excitement.  Everyone exists in a comfortable, unchanging environment. There is one person, however, who is able to feel everything.  His name is the Giver, and he serves the community by holding all of its memories for them, both painful and joyful.  He alone knows the history of the community before it changed to protect its citizens.  When issues arise in the community, the Giver is called upon for advice on how to address the issue, using his knowledge of the past.

Jonas, as a 12 year old, is ready to receive his life’s assignment in the community.  Some children are assigned to care for the elderly, some become lawyers or teachers. Jonas receives the most prestigious job of all, Receiver.  Every day, Jonas goes to meet with The Giver, to receive the memories of the community.  He learns about war, sickness and disappointment but also about colors, the warmth of sunshine, the cold of snow and the excitement of riding a sled.  He is told that he cannot speak of his experiences with everyone.  He soon feels isolated from his former life and his community.

Jonas’ father is a Nurturer.  His job is to care for infants and toddlers before they are assigned to their family units.  Jonas’ father is troubled by a baby, Newchild 36, who doesn’t seem to be able to fit in.  The baby cries at night and is not adjusting to his environment as the other children are.  As a result, 36 is not able to be assigned to a family unit.  Jonas’ father convinces his bosses to let him bring the child home at night, thinking that it might help him.  Although they are only supposed to know the child’s birth number, Jonas’ family learn that the child’s name is Gabriel.  Despite all Jonas’ family’s efforts, Gabriel doesn’t improve.  Jonas’ father informs Jonas that Gabriel will be “released”.  When he discovers what will happen to Gabriel, Jonas makes a fateful decision that will change not only his own destiny, but the destiny of his community.

This book is perfect for tweens and middle school readers.  My students loved the book and many went on to read the entire Giver series.  The entire series, in order: The Giver, Gathering Blue, The Messenger, and Son, published in 2012.

In case you’re interested in sharing this book with students, here is a link to Lois Lowry’s interview, on Scholastic.com, answering questions submitted by students about The Giver.

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/lois-lowry-interview-transcript

Here’s another link I found that with interesting discussion questions:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDUQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.christina.k12.de.us%2FLiteracyLinks%2F2008%2520Units%2FUnit%25208_Appendix%2520E_Journal%2520Topics_The%2520Giver.doc&ei=RxiqUoKYDs32oASJ34CgAg&usg=AFQjCNFxHhCFTB3wSAsxRnOg_FeCcGDhbQ&bvm=bv.57967247,d.cGU

 

Son, by Lois Lowry

Published December 11, 2012 by Dagmar

sonFor your kids that love dystopian novels.  Son, is the fourth novel in The Giver series.  The Giver is one of the original dystopian novels without all the violence.  Son can be read on its own, but definitely has more meaning if you’ve read the Giver and is better yet if you’ve read books two and three, Gathering Blue and Messenger.  I loved this book.  There was just the right amount of suspense, the characters were really beautifully drawn and there the element of “creepiness” that dystopian readers crave.  For those who have read the previous books, it’s fun to try to trace where this book intersects with the previous books in the Giver series.

Synopsis: Claire is assigned to be a birthmother at her 12 ceremony.  She and other girls are to give birth to “products”.  Once they’ve given birth to three products, they move on to another job in society.  Claire has difficulty with her first birth and is quickly reassigned to another job. So quickly, that those in charge forget to give her her daily pills.  Slowly her feelings for her son awaken.  Claire imagines running away with her son.  Her son, a difficult baby and toddler has been chosen for “release”.  That’s when Claire discovers that her son is missing, taken away by a boy from the community.  So begins Claire’s desperate search for her son.