Since its release in 1993, The Giver has been one of the most controversial books in American schools. Between 1990 and 1999, The Giver ranked 11th on the list of the books most frequently requested for removal. In the 2000s it was 23rd, just two spots below To Kill a Mockingbird. This Friday marks the release of the first film adaptation of The Giver, which is likely to renew fandom, as well as opposition, to the dystopian young adult novel.That analysis is lacking several crucial variables:
- just how many schools and school libraries have The Giver as a standard title. The more schools use a book, especially as assigned reading for a whole class, the more likely it is to prompt challenges, but the rate of those challenges could still be much lower than for other titles.
- how much difference there is between the top of the list and 23rd.
And that complaint brings up another missing variable: what grades the complaints were coming from. To a parent “Unsuited to Age Group” doesn’t mean too dark for all children but too dark for the particular children assigned to read it.
And let’s face it, The Giver is a dark book, regardless of what age its readers are. That’s kind of the point.