Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Family movie night? There's an app for that

Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.

Parents' Guide to

The Giver, Book 1

By Common Sense Media, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Riveting, expertly crafted novel shows utopia's flaws.

The Giver, Book 1 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 115 parent reviews

age 11+

For Intellectuals and Free-Thinkers ONLY

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry at anyone being incensed and outraged by this book for a middle-school-aged kid. If you think it's promoting the horrors of this dystopian society, then you clearly missed the point! I'm all for exposing my child to literature that teaches him how people should not behave, as well as how they should. And he has a wonderful sense of right and wrong. This book is very obviously an example (I think a wonderful example), of how we should not behave. And I think it's a lesson in opening one's eyes and looking at what is going on around them, instead of just blindly buying into what is being pushed by others. That's an important lesson, especially at this age. Everyone should be taught that art has a deeper meaning than what is read or seen at face value. I mean, we grew up with Soylent Green, and I must say, I don't know anyone personally who watched that and started thinking it was okay to use people as food. We did, however, learn that deception can be a powerful weapon, and not everything is as it seems...
age 11+

A book every Young teen should read

The irony of some or the parents comments is not lost on me. The whole idea of the Giver is to let people experience life and make their own judgements of right and wrong. The book does not encourage infanticide. Sorry to burst your bubble, but your 11 year old will be able to relate to wanting to take a bath with the opposite sex. These are important concepts, and this book was crucial developing my understanding of the world when I read it in middle school. Its so ironic that the very ideas the author presents that the society deems “dangerous” are the same ones parents today want banned from their child’s mind. I highly encourage parents to give this book to their kids at 11-12. I will be doing so to mine one day.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (115 ):
Kids say (389 ):

This classic dystopian novel is not only entertaining but also a perfect book to discuss in a family or classroom setting. The Giver examines the trade-offs of a utopian society through the eyes of a sensitive 12-year-old boy. Author Lois Lowry invites readers to consider the pros and cons of Jonas' community and imagine a life without highs and lows. Is a life with no suffering worth living without music or color? Would you give up love if it meant never feeling pain? Jonas is a beautifully realized, big-hearted 12-year-old living a rich individual life in a colorless, faceless world, and his predicament is intensely compelling.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate