Why Some Find “The Giver” So Controversial


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.

The Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), which maintains a database of attempts to remove books from schools, reports that since 1990 they have recorded over 11,000 separate instances of what they call “challenges,” (attempts to remove or restrict materials). For The Giver just under one-third of all challenges (for which the outcome was reported) resulted in a removal. The state that has seen the most attempts to remove The Giver is Texas, but the book has also been challenged in Massachusetts, Washington, and other states all over the country.

The most frequently cited reasons to challenge The Giver have been “Violence” and claims that the book is “Unsuited to the Age Group”—in other words, the book is too dark for children.

The Giver has not seen any recent uptick in challenges, but given the movie’s summer release, there will probably be more challenges. The OIF reports that last year the top three most challenged books were Captain Underpants, The Bluest Eye, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

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