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Lori Lusk

My 7th grade students can't wait till 2nd quarter to read "The Giver"! The 8th graders have told them to just wait. That "The Giver" will change their life! :) You have not become passe!


First let me say that for the four years I taught 3rd and 4th grade one of my favorite lesson plans was reading Number the Stars to the kids and creating a Number the Stars booklet. They all loved it and went to the media center in search of your other books.

Teachers have to be creative in the way they present literature to students. Students do need the opportunity to choose, however a motivated teacher can open up a whole new world of literature to elementary-teens. To simply say "You must read this for a grade" works about as well as if someone told me I must clean out my garage for a grade.


I am all for independent reading, and choice in the English classroom, but I think it's funny that Anne Frank and the Giver in particular are two of the in class books that kids really respond to and wouldn't be the ones I would pick to stop teaching. (To Kill a Mockingbird too, but in much smaller numbers so I can see booktalking that as more of a choice book).

I'm sure those copies will still be passed from kid to kid but the ones who need something a little closer to their own experience may find something else that opens them up to reading.


"THE GIVER in the supply room" might be a good title for an essay. "A cogitation on the art of learning to love books and reading."

I'm currently in the middle of reading Francine Prose's "Reading Like a Writer." So far, it has had the same effect of getting my first pair of glasses. I can see!

I'm learning that books are more than stories. They are paragraphs, sentences, words, carefully chosen, lovingly assembled by the author.

This, I did not learn in school!

School did not necessarily reinforce reading. And the graduate course on "American Realism in the nineteenth Century" hurried me through all of Edith Wharton, Henry James, Dean Howells at breakneck speed.

Nevertheless, understanding literature requierd that I have a background on the classics already written. Had I not read Hawthorne, and Poe, and Hemingway and the other "required reading" in school It would have been like trying to build a cathedral without knowing how to lay bricks!

"A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down!"


i devoured that NYT article, and my heart sank at the last paragraph. my first thought, truth, was OH NO, THIS IS GONNA SERIOUSLY BUM OUT LOIS LOWRY. fwiw, my seven-yr-old has read a vast bunch of your books entirely for fun, on her own, *including* Number the Stars, which she adored. (tho as i emailed you once before, i will never forgive you for inciting her to go to school with underpants on her head, a la gooney bird.) SO: there are and will always be kids who see your name as the good housekeeping seal of awesome it has always been. but as a fan of progressive ed, i can see how giving kids the power to choose what they read could make them more enthusiastic readers. my takeaway: there will still be 3 copies of Number the Stars in that classroom, and i hope all the kids will *choose* to read it. (and for a reluctant reader, captain underpants can be a gateway drug...to Number the Stars and other more sophisticated works.)

lois Lowry

Nah, I don't seriously bum out. Actually, it was kind of an honor to find myself on the "classics" list instead of in a sentence like: "Let's put Faulkner and Hawthorne in the supply closet and let kids read what they want to, even if it is a lightweight author like Lowry"...

I think there will always be a place for kids' selecting their own books, modified by teachers inflicting (and, one hopes, teaching, and teaching well) some of the Past Greats...

Danielle S.

You are not passe. I taught The Giver with The Outsiders each year I taught 7th grade. (I'm teaching a different grade this year.) Your book moved many of my students to tears. I think that speaks for your vitality even if supposedly you're not as a popular.

Linda G.

I agree that students should be given the opportunity to choose their own books, provided they have a list of good choices to select from. But they need to be exposed to good literature, and to learn how to discuss it intelligently, which is best achieved when everyone is reading the same work.

I have taught both NTS and The Giver in the classroom, and my students have enjoyed both and sought out your other books. After reading the Giver, several girls went on to read The Gathering Blue and The Messenger on their own, then recommended them to me!


For what it's worth, my students' standardized test scores have risen every year since implementing Atwell's version of the Reading Workshop. I, too, was fortunate to be selected for, and attend, Atwell's week-long internship. My fifth grade students' standardized test scores are far, far above the state average and school average.

But more importantly, year after year, many parents and students tell me that their year in my classroom is the first time they every enjoyed reading. Moreover, almost every student tells me that they have never read anywhere close to the amount of books as they did in fifth grade. The average number of books read by a student in my class each year hovers around 25. Many proficient readers read 40-50 books. Many reluctant/struggling readers read 15 books or more.


One of my favorite memories is reading The Giver aloud to my fiance---who had never read anything of yours---and having him beg me (at eighteen!) to keep reading until my voice gave out because he wanted to know what happened next. (And yes, he can read for himself. And now he owns his own copy.)

It saddens me every time I hear some kid say they "hate The Giver" because they had to read it in school and it was dumb and they didn't get it. I think the Giver is one of those books you have to read at the right time and the right age, or it just doesn't work.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep lending my copies out (yes, that's a plural) and hopefully someday those kids will storm the storeroom and demand their books back.

Micahel L

At age 39, I decided I should read some of the classics that I somehow missed out on during my public school education. Actually for years, I have been reaching back to "catch up". I read in the same week, for the first time Anne Frank's Diary and The Grapes of Wrath. I have so much more to catch up on - my wife, a lit major, has shelves full.

And now with my daughter, my wife and I are discovering so many new "classics" like The Giver, Star Girl, Maniac McGee, The Graveyard Book, and so many more I can't recall at the moment.

No matter what job you end up at in this life, reading will help you in that job and in life - to be smarter, better understood, better to understand, more understanding of others, and overall a better person.


Just thought I'd let you know I posted a link to this post on Examiner.com today. Here's the link: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-15096-Reading-Examiner~y2009m9d16-Reading-Education-The-New-York-Times-and-the-missing-point

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