Winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal, The Giver by Lois Lowry (Lexile: 760; Interest Level: Grades 5-8) is the beginning of the story of Jonas, who lives in a community in which everything is perfect. There is no war, no worry, no pain, no fear, no joy. But there are also no choices. Each year, the community celebrates life stages at a single ceremony. Children are assigned to families and given names at year 1, they are given their bicycles at year 9, they are assigned their adult roles at age 12. Grown ups are assigned their spouses. When Jonas turns 12, he is excited to learn what role the elders have chosen for him, so he is confused when the Lead Elder skips over him. He is even more confused when he is called up on stage and told he was chosen for, rather than assigned to, his new role as "Receiver." What does that mean? Why was he chosen? Jonah learns that he is to be taught the secrets to the perfect world he lives in when the Giver begins to share the true memories of pleasure and pain, and for Jonas, there will be no turning back. But how can he live as the only one who knows what he knows?
Now considered an early dystopian novel, this is an excellent look at a post-apocolyptic society and how people chose to adapt to build a better life. Readers who are not quite ready for the violence of the Hunger Games, but are interested in the concept of that story, may want to try out The Giver. (179 pages)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.