Why Has The Giver Been Banned?

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  • 0:02 Why Ban Books?
  • 0:35 Violence and Sexuality
  • 1:38 Adult Themes
  • 3:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Liz Breazeale
Many groups throughout the history of the United States have targeted certain books for themes they feel are controversial or inappropriate. This results in attempts to ban books - like ''The Giver'', by Lois Lowry. In this lesson, learn why someone would want to ban this book.

Why Ban Books?

You've probably had some kind of experience with banned books, whether in reading them or hearing about a controversy surrounding them. We call this censorship, or banning or suppressing material some find offensive. A book is typically banned because some people are offended or frightened by what it says, usually on political, moral, or religious grounds.

In this lesson, you'll learn why some people have wanted to ban the children's book The Giver by Lois Lowry. As you'll soon see, the backlash surrounding this book stems from its complex themes and the issues it addresses.

Violence and Sexuality

Some groups have wanted to ban The Giver because they feel the story depicts sexual awakening and violence. To be fair, they're not wrong. Jonas, the protagonist, is a twelve-year-old member of a society that represses emotions and sexual desire. Because Jonas begins puberty in this book and starts to have those sexual urges, Lowry describes the pills he is given in order to suppress those desires. And as for violence, the memories given to Jonas by the Giver are often quite violent. He witnesses war and its results, and he even suffers extreme pain as a result of experiencing these memories.

For these reasons, in the 1990s and 2000s, many groups tried to ban this book on grounds that it was violent and included sexually explicit material. They felt these things were too complex for their children to be reading, even though the average video game or PG-13 movie contains far more violence and sex than The Giver ever showed. Most attempts to ban this book on these grounds have proved ineffective, and the novel is still widely assigned to middle schoolers as required reading because of the way it addresses these themes.

Adult Themes

Many groups have also tried to ban this book on the all-encompassing grounds of adult themes or, basically, the fact that they feel many of the themes and issues addressed in this book are too complex for their children to understand or discuss.

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