We’re about eight chapters into The Giver. They can’t cope. Just like always.

Usually I don’t do a lot of  “prereading prep” when we do novels. I prefer to dive right in and sort of explain/let them figure things out along the way. I think too much prep biases them or raises expectations or whatever. I think the book can usually explain itself with a little help from me.

When we read The Giver, I suspend regular KBARR reading/responding (“and there was much rejoicing”), and instead they read/respond to the class novel (“and there was much sadness”). I read their paragraph-or-so responses each day during the warm up. Then we do a Q/A session, where I tell them that I will answer any and all questions about the previous night’s reading. Then the reading quiz.

What follows is the first eight chapters of The Giver in the form of questions my crew had while reading said eight chapters. See if you can follow the plot just by the questions they ask.

“Ok. So. They don’t know what animals are?”

“What’s a Birthmother?” (Umm…duh?)

“Do they not have cars?”

“Where is this place?”

“What if you don’t know how to ride a bike?”

“This is weird.” (OK, technically not a question.)

“Why are these people so weird?” (There you go.)

“Are there no toys?”

“What kind of people would name their kid Jonas?” (Really. One kid wrote that. I called him out. In fact I had a Jonas and a Fiona one year. That could have been awkward if they were in the same class–see below–. I tried to make it awkward enough anyway.)

“Do they have to tell the truth when they share their feelings? What if they lie?”

“Why can’t my family have a sharing of feelings after dinner each night?” (Awww. How cute.)

“What’s a fish hatchery?” (Umm…duh?)

“When they release you where do you go?” (I always have to shush the ones who have read it before.)

“So the babies just wander around by themselves if they’re released? That’s mean.” (You don’t know the half of it yet, baby.)

“Why would you play catch with an apple?”

“So did the apple change into something else, or what?” (Go back and read it again.)

“So they’re watching you all the time? Like with cameras? Like stalkers?”

“You mean everything is grey?”

“Ewww. Why would you volunteer for a job like that?”

“Wait. The old people are naked? Ewwwwww.”

“Does Jonas like Fiona? Does Fiona like Jonas?”

“His dream was weird.” (OK. OK. He raised his hand, I called on him, that’s what he “asked.”)

“Why would you make us read something like that? Isn’t that illegal?”

“Did he really want her to take off her clothes? That’s gross! Why would you do this to us?”

“Is Jonas a perv?” (Do you  even know what that means?)

“What are the Stirrings?” (Snicker –  and after all of the above!)

“Does Jonas like the stirrings? Gross!”

(me) “Wouldn’t we think he was weird if he didn’t like it?”


“So if a kid dies, they just replace him?” (Sort of like the middle ages.)

“They recycle names? That’s weird.” (You don’t get to say that any more.)

“Do they really hit three-year-olds? I thought there was no violence. That’s mean.”

(me) “How many of you have been spanked?” (About half) “Well then.”

“Are you going to call your Stick The Discipline Wand now?” (Hmmmm.)

“Why do they stop counting birthdays after 12?” (They really can’t cope with that one.)

“What if you don’t like the job you’re assigned? Can you just leave? What if you do? Do they have cops? They have judges; Jonas’s mom is a judge, isn’t she?”

“How do they not feel pain? That would be cool.” (Lengthy detour about why it would NOT be cool.)

And we’re just getting to the good part.