Among the Hidden (Shadow Children Series #1)

Among the Hidden (Shadow Children Series #1)


$6.39 $7.99 Save 20% Current price is $6.39, Original price is $7.99. You Save 20%. View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, August 23


In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke, an illegal third child, has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm in this start to the Shadow Children series from Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Luke has never been to school. He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.

Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He's lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family's farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.

Then, one day Luke sees a girl's face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he's met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows — does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford not to?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689824753
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 03/01/2000
Series: Shadow Children Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 464
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 11.04(h) x 0.44(d)
Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide


Among the Hidden

Among the Impostors

Among the Betrayed

By Margaret Peterson Haddix

A Guide for Reading Groups

About the Books

Sometimes in this world it's hard to know who is telling the truth, who isn't, and what can be done about all the things that are wrong. The government claims that there isn't enough food for everyone in the world, and so they have made it illegal for any family to have more than two children. Yet hundreds of these illegal shadow children exist, and they want desperately to find a place for themselves in society. But these are children who have been forced to hide their entire lives, and who are only allowed to venture out with fake IDs in their hands and fear in their hearts. How can they sort through the conflicting information about shadow children and find out where they belong? And will they be able to find the courage to defy the government and stop hiding?

Discussion Topics

  • What are some of the ways in which having more than two children would be a burden in this society? Why do some families decide to have illegal shadow children in spite of this added strain? Do you think that the benefits of having another child outweigh the sacrifices that must be made?
  • Luke often feels hurt by the way his father treats him, especially when he is making his decision to leave the family farm. Do you think Mr. Garner means to be cruel? Jen's father, Mr. Talbot, can also seem cruel to the casual observer. Is this image justified? How are their reactions to the children different from the reactions of their wives?
  • How does the government enforce its rules and regulations? Do you think their plan for dealing with the waning food supply is a good one? Do you think it is justified?
  • Nina is reluctant to take on her false identity because she fears she will lose her past and cease to be the same person. Are her fears warranted? How do other shadow children feel about their identities, both old and new?
  • When shadow children stop hiding, they often have difficulty adjusting to their newly expanded world. In what ways would this be a hard adjustment to make? How do the different children react to their new freedoms? What has been done to help make it easier for the children?
  • Luke is a devoted friend to Jen even after her death. Why does he feel such loyalty toward her? Do you think his concept of friendship—as well as his devotion to Jen—would have been different if he hadn't been in hiding all his life? How are Nina's concepts of friendship and love affected by the fact that she is a shadow child?
  • Discuss how each character chooses to fight for the freedom of shadow children. How effective was Jen's rally? Is Mr. Talbot in a better position than the children to fight for change? How do Luke's actions fit into the movement?
  • Many of the characters find they have the potential to lead others. What are the different ways they assume leadership roles? Whose leadership is the most effective? Why?


  • The world's population grows larger every day. Write a report on population: how it has changed over the years, how it affects our society, and ways of dealing with it.
  • How do we deal with hunger and famine in our modern world? Research the policies that different countries have for dealing with hunger both at home and abroad. Stage a debate, with each person advocating a different approach, and see if you can reach a consensus about which methods are the most effective.
  • Luke's family lives on a farm, and he is very interested in gardening and hydroponics, the growing of plants in a nutrient-rich water rather than soil. Learn more about these disciplines by trying to grow some vegetables of your own. Perhaps you can plant a small garden, or try your hand at hydroponics.


An Interview with Margaret Peterson Haddix

What inspired you to create the Shadow Children series?

MPH: I first started thinking about the whole scenario when my husband and I were trying to decide whether or not to have a third child. We discussed the issue of overpopulation, and how that should affect our decision. In frustration one night I thought, "Well, if overpopulation were that bad of a problem, there'd be a law that nobody could have more than two children." My next thought was, "Wow. What if there were a law like that?"

By any chance, are you a third child? Do you have more than two children?

MPH: No to both questions. I'm a second child, out of four. And I have only two children, though there are usually several of my kids' friends hanging around the house so it often seems like I have more.

When you wrote the first book, Among the Hidden, did you envision it would be the first in a series?

MPH: Not at all. I intended it to be a stand-alone book, and for a long time I resisted all suggestions that I continue the story. Then I got the image in my head of Luke lying in bed at night in a strange place, surrounded by strangers, and whispering his real name to himself in a desperate attempt to hold on to his real identity. That became the opening scene of Among the Impostors and the beginning of the rest of the series.

Each of the books has been so different, yet based on the same themes. How are you able to keep the series fresh?

MPH: I think it's helped to switch between main characters, so everything isn't always from Luke's perspective. And, although I didn't plan this from the beginning, the situations in the books keep changing, with the shift in the government and more restrictive rules. My characters are becoming more desperate, with good reason.

Your books all offer so many twists and turns that they are real page-turners, yet all of the angles come together. How are you able to keep everything straight as you write these books?

MPH: Well, I'm not always able to keep it all straight the first time through. Sometimes I write myself into corners and struggle to find a way out. Revision is definitely helpful.

You don't specify the setting for the books. Is this meant to suggest that this type of totalitarian government can take place anywhere in the world, at any time?

MPH: I don't want to sound like that much of an alarmist, although it amazes me how ordinary, otherwise sane and supposedly even good people accepted dictators like Hitler in the past. I did consider, early on, stating outright that these books take place in the United States in some not-so-distant future, after droughts and famines and a drastic change in the government. But explaining all of that would have been an immense interruption in the story. And I thought a lot of people would dismiss such a possibility out of hand, and then dismiss the entire series as implausible. So I left the setting as some vague, fictional place in some vague, fictional future, with hopes that this would make readers think for themselves about whether such a shift would be possible here.

How much do current events affect your plot choices for the series?

MPH: The first three books were not affected at all by current events. Instead, while I was planning for them, I did a lot of historical research: I read about famines in the past; I read about the difficulties Jewish children faced coming out of hiding after World War II; I read about the different resistance movements that sprang up to fight the Nazis throughout Europe; I read about the Soviet Union under Stalin; I thought about my father's stories about growing up during the Depression and my own fascination with some world events of the 1980s, particularly Tiananmen Square and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. I thought I was drawing on tragedies and hopes of the past in order to imagine children fighting a dismal future that I didn't believe would really happen.

My perspective changed after September 11. I had just begun writing Among the Barons in the fall of 2001, and for a few weeks after the terrorist attacks I felt it was impossible to continue. It seemed wrong to write about opposing the government -- any government. I knew Oscar was going to carry out some form of sabotage, and it made me sick to think about writing that. When I finally returned to Barons, it became a very different book than it would have been if I'd finished it September 10, 2001. Luke's confusion and dread mirrored a lot of what I was feeling in real life.

Among the Brave and Among the Enemy have been less connected to current events, but there are certainly overtones. In the Shadow Children world, people gave up all their freedom for food; our country is currently struggling with the question of how much freedom we can or should give up for security. In Brave and Enemy, Trey and Matthew and Matthias put their lives on the line trying to protect or save other people; soldiers and firefighters and police officers made and continue to make similar choices.

I really wish we were living in safer, happier times, and I could base the books solely on my own imagination and history. But seeing all the connections to reality does make me more thoughtful and careful about what I write.

The Shadow Children long to live freely, yet have been conditioned to fear the outside world. Do you feel that readers can relate to this feeling of fear and powerlessness? Why?

MPH: Yes. We live in frightening times, and it's hard to know what to do. I think a lot of people feel powerless right now. Also, on a less dramatic scale, I think most teens and preteens can relate to wanting to be in control of their own lives but being afraid of all the responsibility. That's part of growing up.

It's fascinating how minor characters in earlier books become the protagonists of later books. Did you plan this when you began writing the series?

MPH: When I agreed to do more books after Among the Hidden, I expected to tell about numerous characters besides Luke. But I didn't really plan the interconnections -- my original thought was that I'd skip from one character to another, in vastly different circumstances. I think I was seeing the series as several related stand-alone books, rather than an actual series. But then after Among the Impostors, it was like Nina said to me, "Hey, I've got a story, too. Want to hear it?" In retrospect, it makes sense to me that the minor characters grow into main characters in subsequent books. With practically every book I've ever written, I've known more about the minor characters than I can fit into the book. So it's been a joy to get to expand on some of those characters in other books.

The Shadow Children series is hugely popular with middle grade and teen readers. What are the most common questions that kids ask you about the books?

MPH: A lot of kids ask where the books take place, and whether I think the events in the books will really happen. They ask how I got the idea for the series, and whether I know about the one-child policy in China. One of the most poignant questions anyone ever asked me came from a boy who wanted to know where the Population Police are because, he said, "I don't want to go there." And I thought, okay, maybe he doesn't quite understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction, but he does get the bigger point. None of us should ever want to go to those kinds of restrictions, that kind of a police state.

Do you hope to send any particular message or moral when writing these books?

MPH: My primary goal is to tell a good story -- I can't think of much that turns off kids faster than books that are overly didactic or moralistic. But I'm always glad when kids tell me these books have made them think about freedom and courage and personal choices and sacrificing for others.


About the Book

"A chilling and intelligent novel," is how Kirkus Reviews described Among the Hidden. "Haddix offers much for discussion here." In a society that allows only two children per family, Luke is a third child, a "shadow child." He's illegal, strictly forbidden. So he stays hidden, alone most of the time and frightened all of time. Then one day he discovers another shadow child, Jen, living in one of the fancy new houses that the government built behind his family's farm. Luke and Jan quickly become friends, but Jan is bold and daring and she wants more than companionship from Luke. She wants him to be a crusader, another third child willing to risk everything for freedom. "An exciting and compelling story," wrote School Library Journal. "Readers wiII be captivated by Luke's predicament and his reactions to it."

Discussion Topics

  • The author doesn't specify the setting for Among the Hidden. Where do you think it takes place? When do you think it takes place?

  • Luke's family is terrified of the government. Why? What are some of the tactics the government employs to make ordinary families like his feel powerless?

  • Explore Luke's relationships with his brothers and his parents. How close are they? How trusting? Does Luke have more in common with Jen than with his own family? Why or why not?

  • The Internet made it possible for Jen and, later, Luke to connect with other hidden third children. It helped them build a community of peers. Do you use the Internet to connect with people who share interests with you?

  • What do you like about friendships formed over the Internet? What do youdislike?

  • Why did Jen organize the march on the president's house? Do you think she knew she was going to die? Was she being noble? Was she being foolish? Luke decides not to follow her. What would you have done?

  • Jen is a third child, but her stepfather is a member of the Population Police, the brutal organization devoted to discovering people like her and bringing them to a harsh justice. Discuss his character. Is he a hero, a villain, or both? What do you think and why?

Activities and Research

  • What would happen to your family if third children and beyond were outlawed? Would you have been born? Would your parents or your grandparents? Make a family tree. How many relatives would have to be taken off if there were no third children?

  • Among the Hidden is fiction. But the most populous country in the world, China, actually does have laws that strictly limit family size. Find out more about China's effort to reduce its population. How are the laws enforced? How sucessful have they been? Are these laws popular or unpopular among the people?

  • The government in Among the Hidden is totalitarian. The government of the United States is democratic. How do these forms of goverment differ from one another? If possible, invite an elected official to come speak. What are a citizen's rights and freedoms in a democracy? How are they preserved and protected? How are they threatened? Could what happened in Among the Hidden happen in our society?

  • You are the chief propaganda officer of the Population Police. Create a bumper sticker or billboard reminding ordinary citizens that third children are against the law.

  • Imagine that fifteen years have passed since Luke left home. Where is he now? What is he doing? Is it still illegal to be a third child? Compose a letter he writes home to his parents. Are they still on the farm?

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of four other books: Leaving Fishers; Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey, Just Ella; and Running Out of Time. She has worked as a copy editor, a reporter, and a college instructor. The second child in a family of four children, Ms. Haddix grew up on a farm in Ohio. She now lives in Ohio, with her husband and their two children.

Look for Margaret Peterson Haddix's new novel, Turnabout, in Fall 2000.

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed teen and middle-grade novels, all published by S&S. She lives in Powell, Ohio, with her husband and two children. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Among the Hidden 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 959 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Best book. I really want to read all the books. I loved it. But the ending is so sad. It made me cry. But really good book. I recomend it to any fifth or sixth grader!
LAPROJECTDUDE More than 1 year ago
Among the Hidden by Margaret Haddix created a wonderful reflection on the future. Not only will this book want you to read more of the book, after the ending, you will want to read more and more of this epic series called, The Shadow Children. This book is for kids who want a quick easy read and someone who is looking for and on going series (eight books).
In this capturing book, Haddix makes the future seem even darker then it already seems by enforcing the Poplulation Law which limits each family to a meager two children. Usually a family follows the law, but some of the daring have an illegal third child. these illegal third children are called shadow children. Luke, the main character is known as one of these shadow children. In Among the Hidden, Luke has to hide out in his house by himself, avoiding contact with windows light, or anything that could seem suspicious. After a few days of looking out of his vent (no one could see him there) he notices a flickering light in one of his neighbor's window knowing that all the family was gone. This new possiblity of a shadow child living next door gives Luke new hope. This new hope inspires him to brake into his neighbors new home and meet his new friend Jen. These two shadow children struggle to find what is actually right. Staying in or fighting for their right.
Other books from this grabbing-of-a series include Among the Imposters (book number two) and Among the Betrayed (book number three). Again, this book is a quick easy read and might not be that great for someone who wants to get into a big book, but for those of that kind, there is the on-going series this book is a part of.In this breath- catching, suprise-ending, epic novel Haddix gives the reader a dark, murky reflection of the not-so-far-away future. And does it triumphuntly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book in the whole wide world. If you like the hunger games this book is for you. You will be biting your nails near the middle and the end. The ending is also very suprising. It is about the population law that you can not have over two kids. If you do they will be killed. So allthe third children have to hide from everyone so the population police will not find out. I reccomend this book to fourth firth and sixth graders. I hope this helped!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An awesome book,couldn' t put it down till i finished it"!!!!!!!!!!! Read it!"!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would reccomend this book to anyone who loved the hunger games or little house on the prairie! You will fall in love with Luke and feel his emotions as he tells you his story. I cried and laughed and overall loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading the book with my class and i luv it! I will start to read it, and then when class is over, Ill forget what im even doing! Im to focused on the book because its so full of mysteries and I just cant describe how good it is! I hate the population police, the government only lets you have two children or they take away your third. SO WRONG! To even have a third you have to hide him away. Here's a short summery of the book. Luke is a third child who is growing up hidden because of the population law. The woods around his familys farm is being cut down and alot of barons(rich people) move in around there. Luke risks his life to go to another family's house where he thinks he saw another third child. Luke meets the third child and she wants to stand up against the government to get the same rights as legal people. Read the book to see if the do or dont get their rights.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in middleschool, and reread it again since my students never heard of the series. I cried my eyes out, and its definitely one of my favorites. Best for a quickread, those who like adventure, suspense, and a tug at your heartstrings. Definitely give this a try!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My fifth grade class enjoyed this book. It took a while to get into the "meat" of the story and they got bogged down with it but the story and premise were good.
GracieLou-MCReading More than 1 year ago
"Among the Hidden', Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a science fiction novel from The Shadow Children Series. It is filled with solutions and adventures that you think are working out in one way, but in reality are working just the opposite. It describes the characters feelings and what the author is telling you. Reading "Among the Hidden" produces so many thoughts that made you want to read more. Luke, an average teenager, has been stuck in his attic hiding from what they called Population Police. The Population Police have forbidden parents to have a third child. Luke always wanted to be free, but while sitting on his bed in the attic, he saw this face in the neighbor's house where he knew nobody should be home. Later in the book, while Luke's parents are out, he goes over and finds that he is not the only child hiding, and there is a girl who lives next door. Problems come along and in the end Luke moves and gets a fake i.d. The Shadow Children Series has a sequel of books that just get better as you add on more problems. I recommend this book to a variety of children from ages 11 to 18. For those parents who do not like their children to be reading about somebody just being killed, then I do not recommend it. The way Margaret keeps adding problems, it makes you not want to stop reading. I read half the book in one day. In the begging it is a little hard to get into, but it was an awesome book after about a quarter of the way through. Before I read this book, I didn't really like reading, and now at home I am getting in trouble for doing nothing but reading. If you are a teacher and have a student that doesn't like reading, I would definitely recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book out of all the books I have read is the most descriptive, hard griping, enjoyment book yet! (and forever)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best bok ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :~)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many twists and turns in this book. You feel like you are on a super crazy rollercoaster.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The whole series is amazing! U should all read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im reading this book at school so fare really good book. I hope that the little secret changes read this book you WONT put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great but i do have a warning-it is sad and i couldnt fall asleep after i read it and i am a sixth grader
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loveed it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im still reading but so far this book is amazing! I believe that this book is a good suspense book because the relationship betweeb Jen and Luke is remarkable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book!!!!!! I give it thumbs up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book out of the libray not knowing this book. But as soon as i started reading i got sucked in. I lllllooooovvvvveeee this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recomend this thrilling series. I couldnt stop reading it. Theres so much suspence through the series you are sad when youve completed it. Haddix has many other great books like the found series. These series are must reads!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love to read! This book has so much suspense and action in it that most people that can say they read this will say they were sliding off the edge of their seats the entire time while reading this book! It is about the population law where you are only legally aloud to give birth to 2 children because at the time people were afraid there wouldn't be enough food, drink, and clothing to nourish and support all the people so they had to make restrictions. Only in some families were there third and fourth children and they call these shadow children. These children have to hide their whole life and are unable to see the outside world! This is such a great book I would recommend this book to people of all ages!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was incredible. I read it several times and never once got sick of it. We were also required to read this book in language arts this year, and I don't know of anyone in my class who didn't enjoy it. It's very suspensful and definatley one of my favorites.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Among the Hidden was a great story to see what might happen in the future. In the future a family is only allowed to have two childen in a family if a family had three kids the third kid would be killed if they are found by the police. There is an 11 year old third child who0 had never been outside for a long time because the forrest behind his house and turn down and new houses were built. One day he was bored of being in his house 24/7. He would keep track of the people how live in the houses. One day all the parents and two childen left and he saw someone in one of the houses. The next day he got the guts to go see who was in the house. He heard someone on a computer typing away and peeked in and saw a girl. He got to know her and she was also a third child.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like books that has an ending of a chapter saying somthing that makes you want to go on to the next chapter, than this is the book to read. This book has so many twists to it that you want to keep reading it. Hope you like it.