Is Hunger Games Appropriate for Kids?

Update: 11-22-13: This post is getting a lot of traffic again thanks to the Hunger Games: Catching Fire release. I think all of the comments for the first book/movie apply to the second. I saw it last night with my 10 and 12 year old daughters. There was a little less teenager on teenager violence in the second one, but the premise was the same and the characters engaged in the same activities.

Update 2-20-12: I’m amazed at the number of comments to this post. If you are truly interested in the issue of whether the Hunger Games is appropriate for your kids, be sure to read down through all of the comments. They are definitely a good perspective on both sides of the issue!

News about the Hunger Games has been fast and furious lately with the filming of the first book beginning. It seems like everyone with a blog has written about whether Hunger Games is the “next Twilight” and how the fanbase will compare. But for those of us with young readers, the first question is whether The Hunger Games Trilogy is appropriate for them. The books are technically “Young Adult,” but that can include a really wide range.

I read all three of the books and have a daughter who is a pretty advanced reader for the age of 10. She’s read Harry Potter but I will not let her anywhere near Twilight. The Hunger Games falls somewhere in the middle. Although the reading level would not be too difficult, I am not sure about the subject matter. In fact, I’m actually less worried about the violence than the romance because my daughter isn’t really affected by “scary” stories or prone to violence in any way. Conversely, she is starting to hit that preteen “mooning” phase when it comes to celebrity boys and kids in her class are tossing around the word “boyfriend” more frequently. That’s the kind of subject matter that I do not want to expose her to yet.

I’m considering letting her read The Hunger Games trilogy once she turns 11 in December. That would give her plenty of time before the March release of the first Hunger Games movie.

What do you think? Is the Hunger Games appropriate reading for your kids? How old are they and what is your opinion? Are you a Hunger Games Fan yourself (I am!)?


  1. Hazel Novella says

    I read the books when I was eleven. My mother was worried, like most of you, that the books were too depressing and/or violent. However, she allowed me to read them anyway, telling me that if I didn’t like it, to stop.
    I didn’t stop. I loved it. Personally. But here’s what I’m gonna go ahead and say, even if I’m going to be criticized by the lot of you-If you don’t think it’s appropriate for them to read The Hunger Games, then learning about history is going to be very difficult for you.
    World War 2 (sorry, I don’t know how to do Roman numerals) was extremely violent. Nowadays, reading books like “Number the Stars,” “The Devil’s Arithmetic,” or other Holocaust books usually happens in fifth grade, even fourth grade. When we read these books as a class, kids were more sickened by the Holocaust books than The Hunger Games. Because it’s REAL. And I think that more kids need to realize that we have a long, bloody history. Humanity has a ways to go. Our media focused on the love triangle of The Hunger Games, just like the government in those books. I’m not saying it will happen. However, before World War 2, we never would have expected anything like it to happen. Still, I don’t think the Hunger Games will happen. Because we’ve read a book that shows us the negative repercussions and why The Hunger Games were wrong. Why senseless violence is wrong.
    I respect everyone’s right to prevent their child from reading it. It certainly does depend on the maturity of the child. However, they’re going to get out there eventually, and it’s better to have a parent there to discuss with the child why such violence is wrong than to have them be overwhelmed with the violence in our world today. I know I am sometimes. But a simple discussion with my mom, my dad, or my grandparents on world events can usually change my depressed feeling into a feeling of determination, of motivation to try and help as many people as I possibly can.
    When I heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook, I was shaken. I had learned about it at school. I didn’t know things like that happened in the real world. I shed a tear when I read various articles on the subject, then discussed it thoroughly with my parents and my classmates. For days, our teachers were quieter than normal. But what I noticed was that the troublemakers didn’t make as much trouble.
    Us kids are growing up in a troubled society. It’s no secret. But if their innocence is going to be exposed and destroyed anyway, shouldn’t we learn about the horrible things in this world with our parents to guide us?
    You say violence starts violence. And maybe it does. But violence that is talked over and violence that is understood have something different. I never felt like I should go whacking walls and killing kids when I read The Hunger Games. Neither did many of my classmates.
    Some of them may not have understood the violence message. That’s OK. Eventually they will. But The Hunger Games opened their eyes a bit. My teacher would sometimes join in on our group-book discussions and offer her opinions, and so many of my peers realized many of the messages in the trilogy.
    As for the romance, I see my parents kiss all the time. I understand that they love each other. I understand that they love me and my siblings. I, as a kid, had crushes all the time. I understand and understood when I was younger that Peeta and Katniss are doing what they have to do. It’s natural for teenagers to feel attraction toward the opposite gender. Kids at least age eleven can understand that. Heck, I read Harry Potter when I was in first grade, and I understood it. However, I read it a couple times more as I got older, and I’ll admit readily that my understanding of the books increased. But I benefited from reading Harry Potter, not just because my reading skills got better, but also because I understood more the overall message of the books, and how to apply that to real life.
    I’m sorry if any of my personal comments or opinions offend anyone. I truly didn’t mean to, and was trying to be as respectful as possible while still expressing my feelings.

  2. Karen says

    Suzanne Collins is wealthy with the attraction and allure of the books and movies. I don’t find the story premise at all alluring. I find it depressing and disturbing that kids have to murder kids. I have zero desire to read the books or watch the movies.

    I HATE the fact that my 10 and 12 year old kids are allured by these books and movies. I do not approve.

    The frenzy is a pathetic commentary. My kids at their age don’t need to be reading about or watching this crap. There is more than enough violence in the daily news. The author is clearly misguided in marketing this as a read for children! It does work; however, for her bottom line.

  3. Ruby says

    That book was assigned to my 10 year ald daughter today and i was in shock, i saw the movie and felt misserable afterwards, for no readon will i allowed my kids to watch it.

  4. says

    While telling my 10 year old that she is going to be reading more and watching T.V. less she said, “Okay, can I pick the book?” “Sure”, I replied. Then she said it…”The Hunger Games”. She has seen the movie already at a friend’s house during a sleepover. The Mom had read the book and thought it was okay for them to watch. Since my husband and I had the night free we decided to watch the Hunger Games knowing my daughter was at her friends watching the same movie. I didn’t like the movie not only because the violence of kids killing kids but even more so that in the movie society had devolved to use the violence of kids killing kids as entertainment and as way to settle up some debt owed to society. The reason I didn’t like her watching the movie is that I don’t think that she gets the bigger concept of how society can become so accepting of something so terribly wrong and how you can see that in many societies’ lack of outrage at terrible things that go on in the world every day.

    “Lots of kids at school are reading it!” So to read or not to read the book she has already seen the movie of…and the decision is….we are both going to read the book and talk about it. I won’t let her see the second movie. If she wants to read the second book I will read it first not at the same time as her. You only have a childhood once what is the hurry to take on the burden of knowing it all.

    • Danielle says

      I agree. There is a much bigger picture that a 10 year may not understand. But the people are not happy about it, or even ok about it and that’s pretty clear. That said, maybe wait until 13. :)

  5. Debbie says

    WOW, not sure what to say……I have watched the movie and as an adult can say it’s only a movie, but is it? First of all, the movie is rated PG-13 for a reason and it was even considered to be R rated, but the author felt 14 and up could handle the gore and violence. How nice of them……….. Separating reality from fiction gets increasingly harder for kids in this world. It seems a lot of us have the attitude, if everyone is doing it, it’s ok. Well, I am not convinced kids under the age of 14 really have the ability to truly understand the concept of kids killing kids, heck I didn’t even like it and I get the concept. If we have to sit and explain it to them for them to get the big picture, they are probably too young and why go there???????. There is plenty of time for them have the exposure to violence without us, as the adults, starting the process when they are so young. I think it is sad that we, as society, think it’s ok. Deaths of friends, murders of friends etc. need to be discussed with our kids when it happens to help them try to understand what happened, but exposing them to these books for no other reason than to let them read them and then explain why the characters were killing each other and how it could be a good thing….. not a fan of it. I get it that is another good against evil concept, but kids killing kids to survive, how can that be good for their little minds! But, if you as parents think that is right for your young children’s minds, so be it. Do you really know what is going on inside a child’s mind, or the after effect from reading these kinds of books or watching these kinds of movies has on them? I sure don’t. I do not ever remember being exposed to reading about kids killing kids as a child nor anyone sitting down with me to explain how it was ok???? Yes, my childhood was different, but I cannot believe any parent would think this type of media is right nor good. Why should a child even have to think about it? Dangerous territory for all of us in this corrupt world! I just think there are better reads for them out there. Books about friendships, adventures that are not horrifying or about killing, dreaming of a better life! If we don’t watch over what goes into our children, who will and what will be the consequences of our decisons as we justify how it is ok. This is my take and I am sticking to it, but you can take it or leave it! We are all made up of the choices we make and the consequences of those choices. It is our responsibility to help the children make good choices. Is Hunger Games and others like it good choices for our children??????? Think about it, really think a long time about it and be totally honest with yourself…….. Maybe not.

  6. says

    How did we get to this point when kids aged 9 and 10 are reading books with graphic and sickening violence in them? I am a teacher and talking to kids, they do not ‘get’ the wider message of the book. Parents on here who think children might learn a ‘message’ are deluding themselves.They take it for what it is, a gory story about kids killing each other. I am not a religious moralist. I am not an illiberal person. I consider myself broad minded and open. But there is a little voice in my head that says it is wrong that young children are being exposed to books like ‘The Hunger Games’. It is more appropriate for teenagers of around 14.

    • Kirstin says

      Jeff, I don’t think many parents posting here would disagree with you. The recommended reading level is 12 and up, and most of the “pro-Hunger Games” parents here have even said that they felt more comfortable with 13 and up. I think we all agree that this is truly a young adult, not children’s, series. So the arguments are between people who like it and think it’s appropriate for teenagers vs. people who hate the series (for any age).

  7. says

    I never thought I would tell my daughter that I had changed my mind about this book. But I said it today. Why? First of all, I reread “1984.”

    George Orwell’s “1984” is gruesome, graphic, violent and scary, but it is also, like “Hunger Games,” a warning against what can happen when we let the Constitution and the concepts of representation and liberty go.

    Despite the gruesome violence/child deaths, by which I am repulsed, the book is also about freedom and liberty versus oppression and communism. This is one of the most relevant topics any young or old person could ponder in America today. If you study the United Nations’ goals for “Agenda 21″ you see that their removal of property rights under the flag of “sustainable development” and “green” future AND their creation of districts rather than states, precisely matches the setting of the Hunger Games. The socialization of medicine, the nationalization of education, the redistribution of wealth via overtaxation, are all realities worldwide –and now also in America today. Where does it all end? Not in liberty. This is a warning we need to hear.

  8. Val says

    My 10-year old brought home “Hunger Games” her first week of 5th grade. Appalled by the comment from Stephen King on the cover, I started reading it.

    I’m almost finished with the book, and it has been a great read. We have allowed our daughter to continue reading it, and I will be discussing it with her in some detail. I will read the following books in the trilogy before deciding whether to allow her to read them now or have her wait. (Some comments above have noted this might be wise.)

    Personally, I consciously limit reading of violent books and especially of watching violent movies and tv, not only for my daughter but for myself. In this case, I personally agree with the other reviewers who said that the whole point of the book is that the violence is horrible and that you CAN choose not to succumb to it.

    Think of the premise of some of our best loved fairy tales – Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Snow White… Those are not exactly heart-warming premises at the outset. I once heard a phychiatrist say that the reason fairy tales are so black and white is because kids think that way. Maybe, maybe not. For the person who mentioned Shakespeare above – he is not without violence and vulgarity, either. My daughter’s response to “Romeo and Juliet” was “Why couldn’t they have a happy ending?”

    My advice to other parents is READ THE BOOK! Only you can decide what you’re ok with your child reading and at what age. There are great moral lessons in the book–if you read and discuss with them. I can say that personally, it is not what I expected based on the cover comments. I have been pleasantly surprised.

    Many books have been banned over the years, including Mark Twain and “Wizard of Oz,” not to mention the more recent Harry Potter. As a mother I feel it is my duty to make decisions for my child based on knowledge, not on hearsay.

    Are there kids that the books will be inappropriate for? Sure. Could I understand why some parents might not want their kids to read it? Absolutely. But as my daughter gets older (she is very advanced for her age and also reading well above grade level), she is encountering more complex topics in school, in the news… Personally, I can see many ways in which discussion of this book will provide teaching moments and a more in-depth discussion of right and wrong. Also of why different people make different choices. Not all choices are ok, mind you, but I think it’s probably wise to understand that not everyone will have the strength of character to do the right thing.

    • Kirstin says

      I loved your comment, Val. Wouldn’t it be nice to segregate these discussions by people who had read the book and those who hadn’t? I think it’s fine for a parent to say, “I won’t read the book and I don’t want my kid reading the book, and here’s why [insert some personal belief],” but it’s really aggravating when that same person makes assumptions about the content and themes of a book they haven’t read (and have announced that they have no intention of reading). “I didn’t like it” is so much more powerful than “I just know I wouldn’t like it.”

  9. Amy says

    I agree with the earlier post from Kelly, my child is nearly 11 and I believe there are lots more age appropriate books for pre-teens. My biggest issues include parents just standing by when their kids a selected, the concept of fight to the death as entertainment which I believe was last popular in ancient Rome, and was so distasteful we still talk about it, the emotional and physical abandonment of Katniss’ mother, theLac lack of attention in exploring the development of love growing between the characters at the end. IMHO aspects of this book are not that well written especially at the end. For literal readers such as children under 13 certainly I think they will be better served by more well developed stories. After 13 I think parents should read along or at least discuss over the dinner table.

    • Amy says

      I should add I had no problem with th Harry Potter series primary differences IMHO, responsible adults trying to keep children safe, more normal familial relationships, more realistic handling of teen romance and the overwhelming theme of the strength of love.

  10. pastor says

    God please forgive us a nation for allowing kids to watch such horrible garbage. We will hold vigils for kids killed by other kids in our schools and neighborhoods then have the audacity to sit back…popcorn/soda in hand…..and watch kids kill kids at the movies.

  11. Maria says

    I am 14 years old and I have read all three of the books. My younger sister, who is nine, has been begging my mother to be able to read them. I think that at some points, it gets a little intense. Some of my friends were uncomfortable with the violence and gore of it, but I think it all comes down to the kid. Definitely read them first and decide for yourself! :)

  12. Mrs private says

    Very impressive comments – loved the child’s idea of buying the DVD to preview and then fast forwarding through anything you don’t want them to see. Most parents said read the books! Absolutely, I read the books before my daughter and also with my daughter. She has brought so many questions to me – pointing out so many questionable behaviors by adults in the book and we discussed them. Keep in mind, it depends on your child. Children in a small rural school are less exposed than children in a larger city school. This is a very anti violence book – the violence is shown as horrifying and evil. Sadly, our children learn about violence on TV, at school. Reading about the sadness and horror of violence does not teach children to be violent. It teaches them to think before they act. Tell your child how the violence in the book makes you feel. I would not read the part about Rue (a 12 year old) dying out loud. I told my daughter it upset me too much and we discussed why the author would let something so horrible happen. If the kids at school are discussing the book, now is the time to read it with your child. So your values are the ones she is learning.

    • Pastor Riley says

      I must disagree with you. Kids watching violence does in fact create violent tendencies. Take a little time and research for yourself. 70% of kids in jail or juvenile hall have confirmed ” they acted out what they saw on a movie, video game or read in a book”. I began a study on this topic when I noticed a steady climb in kids (9-17 years old) that were being arrested in Florida for violent crimes. Parents have said to me whats wrong with the movie its just entertainment? My reply is… There are those that call pornography entertainment but if you allow your child to watch it…you (the parent) can be arrested for it. I have three children of my own. I do not my kids to become desensitized. I do not want them to get to the point they feel that violence is okay. Everyone raises their children differently. Please do not take my comment as judgmental.

  13. Stephanie says

    I think there first thing that needs to be done is you need to sit and read the book yourself. It’s not a hard or long read, but I think you need to understand the message of the books. I’m not trying to rub anyone the wrong way, but it has been said, and should be said again until it sinks in, the author (and director, if you are thinking about the movie as well) by no means want to glorify violence. The story draws strong parallels with society today, and that is why, such as the classic books I previously mentioned, this series is important. Moreover, it tells a strong political message against injustice, against the age of reality tv where other peoples misery is entertainment, even against the obsession with apperance the Capitol has.
    I understand distress at exposure to violence and such disturbing themes. I’m not a mother, but a sister (I’m University, and my mum asked me whether they were appropriate for my sister) and the one thing that concerns my the graphic violence. But I desperately want my sister to read these, not only for the great moral of the story, but because (as a bit of a feminist) Katniss (the main character) is a fantastic heroine, who is as strong and powerful as she is compassionate and loving. She sacrifices herself in order to save her younger sister, and before that, she protected and fed her family for years. The question is not whether she should read them but when.
    For you to decide, I think the bottom line is you need to read the story for yourself. If it’s too violent for now, save it for later (but by all means, reconsider it when they’re older!), or if you think they are mature enough to handle it, but still quite young (I would not recommend it at all to anyone under 10), don’t just drop it into their hands! Talk to them about it – discuss why you think it is important, why Katniss is so upset by what happens. You have the ability to make an impact on what really sinks in.
    I personally want to make sure, when my sister is old enough, I will be able to give them to her as something special and grownup, and tell her about why it is important and scary and how it relates to the real world, and what we can do about it – why Katniss is so important and special.

  14. Christina says

    I guess what it comes down to is a matter of choice on the parent’s part whether they encourage, discourage or do nothing about their children’s reading, viewing or any other endeavor in life.

    I personally believe that violence breeds violence and that humanity has reached a point that allows them to shrug off or excuse action or inaction.
    Its true that for the majority of people that read or view violent material in the form of books, television or movies will not go out and commit such acts. However what we take in as a whole does in fact effect us.

    Those who say “I’m not affected by such things as violent movies or books” have already been affected. Otherwise where is our consciences?
    If your stomach turns at watching the news because of some violent act and it makes you sick that this has happened to another person and you can put yourself in that person’s shoes you are doing well.
    But for most we are so conditioned to violence that it is just another day.
    We say oh that’s too bad that that woman got drug into a back alley raped and tortured for who knows how long and then has her throat slit. Glad it wasn’t me. Really?
    Violence is all around us at the present that fact we cannot escape.
    The problem comes when we seek out violence for entertainment.

    And those parents out there that say that any violent book or movie is ok for their child not just Hunger Games they have every right to make that decision for themselves after all freedom of choice.
    But all too often a parent will allow a child to read or view subject matter that may be inapropriate because they are unwilling to try and explain that its not ok that you read, play or watch violence but its ok that I do.
    So I think that in order for a parent to require that a child not take in this junk a parent must be willing to set the example and not do it themselves.

    ….Most parents are unwilling to give up their entertainment so instead and I’m not saying they have to I’m just saying children are more about not listening to a parent’s words but a parent’s actions.

    I’m sure my comments might strike a nerve with some of you and I have to say that the truth usually does.
    So take what you like and leave what you don’t and have a good day.

    PS My kids love Little House on the Prairie and you can rent it free at your local library.

    • Michelle says

      I am SO disturbed at this movie. I’ve been so busy that I really had no idea what it was about. So we sat down to watch it and I was like “WHATTTTTTTTT???????” THIS is what all my conservative friends have been taking their children to see?????? I’ve been upset for 2 days. I’ve read reviews, tried to understand if I just wasn’t getting it. The bottom line is, the first 30 minutes of the movie absolutely disturbed my SOUL, and I turned it off. Why, why, why is it so necessary to watch this when we grew up watching the Brady Bunch and like another poster said, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, and Barney Fife? Maybe there are lessons in the movie, but the way these lessons are being packaged to our children is INEXCUSABLE.

    • Andrea says

      “Those who say “I’m not affected by such things as violent movies or books” have already been affected. Otherwise where is our consciences?
      If your stomach turns at watching the news because of some violent act and it makes you sick that this has happened to another person and you can put yourself in that person’s shoes you are doing well.”

      Have you not realised how STUPID this sounds?

      Books and films are FICTIONAL. They are not real. They don’t affect me in the SLIGHTEST. But violent news on the television is REAL. It is HAPPENING in the world we live in. It upsets me to the point some articles make me cry.

      There is nothing wrong with allowing children to read or watch violence as long as the parents take the time to say that it isn’t real, to explain why it is happening and what it means. You’re so blinded by your own narrow minded little view that you seemingly can’t understand that it is the CONTEXT of violence that makes all the difference to our humanity. How about ‘researching’ (because you clearly didn’t do your research on desensitisation properly) THAT.

  15. Sandy says

    The boys from Columbine shooting also enjoyed “killing” video games and wrote violent stories that they had turned in for assignments and everyone thought nothing of it because it was suppose to be entertainment.
    What will be the excuse when the next generation of young people kill?
    Kids become immumne to the violence in the movies and find it acceptable in real life.

  16. Kelly says

    I have read all 3 Hunger Games books and loved them, and can’t wait to see the movie. However, my freshly 11 year old daughter is now begging to read them. My daughter is a very advanced reader and very bright. I definitely know and feel she can handle this material, but I chose not to expose her to this kind of violence, gore and intimacy between Katniss/Peta and Katniss/Gayle. I know it’s not sex, but there is a time when it comes close to it and the desire and feelings are there for Katniss. There is definitely a lot of kissing and depth of feelings behind each kiss. She will never be able to understand these feelings between these characters at this age, mature or not.

    I know it’s a matter of opinion, but it should have nothing to do with whether a child could handle it or couldn’t handle. The question should be “do I need to expose my innocent, naive child to this graphic material? Is it necessary at their age?” I don’t believe it is necessary for 12 year old children and younger to be exposed to any of these matters because it’s popular, or Mom or Dad liked it and definitely not because all her other friends are reading it, or because it’s JUST a book. What happened to protecting our children?

    I will allow my daughter to read this trilogy when she is 13. After all, that is what the movie is rated, right? Books also tend to be more detailed oriented.

    There are plenty of other good books out there for kids to read in this age group, with the exception of HG and Twilight, we just might have to dig a little harder to find them.

    There is very little I can control my child being exposed to, the news being the worst offender, but I do have control of this one and plan to take it!

  17. Prim says

    O.K. everyone’s wondering if the hunger games is appropriate for kids so here’s a review from a kid. I’m 10 years old & I’ve read the hunger games & catching fire. Everyone at my school was reading them so I asked my mom & she said yes. The moment I got it I couldn’t stop. Despite the kids killing other kids theme it goes against all of it. A whole one third of the book is the prep for the games plus what it’s like for Katniss at home. Read the book your self to find out. P.S. For the movie wait till it comes out on DVD for the parents that aren’t so sure watch it & fast forward though the parts you don’t like .

  18. Christel says

    If you are a kid, enjoy being a kid. Save the gory, scary, serious stuff for later… much later. I’m 42. And I plan to skip reading this one.

  19. Lee says

    My prediction is that this outrage over The Hunger Games will follow the path of the Harry Potter Series. Remember when Harry Potter first came out and there was such an uproar from “good Christian folk” that the books were satanic, that they are advocating that our kids become witches and warlocks and practice magic? People were ready to burn the books. Yet now, these same “good Christian folk” are taking their kids to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Orlando Studios and are buying the box set of CDs for their kids. I know this because several of my friends were from that very same group (and I suspect some of you may have likewise changed your tune about Harry Potter over the years, and man, HP gets pretty violent and gory toward the end). For me, the important thing is the message. Harry Potter and his buddies stuck together, they sacrificed for each other, they fought evil and wanted good to prevail, and it did (like the Hunger Games, HP had “evil establishment discriminating against a minority” themes). My understanding (and I confess, I haven’t read them yet) of the Hunger Game books is that the message is similar. These kids, though being forced to do some awful things, end up fighting for what’s right and they rebel against the evil in the long run. And, like Hermoine in HP, there is a strong female heroine trying to protect others, a model our girls could use more of. I think, as many of you have said, we as parents have to judge the maturity level of our kids before we let them see or read these books. But judge the message of the book as much as you judge the content. Gratuitous violence, such as Grand Theft Auto, has no value for kids and can actually harm them and our society. This series, just like 1984 and Lord of the Flies, seems to have value and may actually end up becoming a classic, as I believe HP will become, or already has. (but I do admit, I read those other classics in high school. Our kids are exposed to so much more at a younger age these days….a bad thing? I’m not yet sure, but it is a reality.)

  20. Ana says

    These comments are making me very angry. If you honestly think that this is a book that glorifies violence and teens killing other teens, you have not picked up the book. The Hunger Games is a novel all about how that sort of glorification is wrong.

    In the world of the books, there are two groups of people: The Capitol and the Districts. The basic premise is that every year, The Capitol forces 24 teens from the districts to fight to the death as a form of entertainment for the Capitol.

    The Capitol is portrayed on a parallel to our own world. They are brightly painted, bizarre, sadistic freaks, to put it bluntly. They have their skin dyed bright colors, they are evil, they are portrayed in a very negative light in the books.

    And the books are all about how these sadistic Games rip families apart and destroy everything. Katniss – the main character – volunteers for the Games to protect her 12-year-old sister, is taken from her home and her friends, and the whole time is forced to contemplate the unfairness of it all. This book is all about how we should NOT love violence and how we shouldn’t watch people’s lives fall apart on reality television for fun. This book does NOT romanticize violence in any way – in fact, it does the opposite.

    I don’t think that this book is too much for tweens and teens to handle. This book is told in first person, and the narrator isn’t around to experience the deaths of most of the tributes. The subject matter is serious – but Collins presents it in such a beautiful way. She knows her audience, and while she doesn’t tell every single gory detail, she doesn’t talk down to teens like they’re all five years old. She gives them credit and lets them think.

    This is really a book to make people – of all ages – think. To REALLY think. And I think that it’s important that people of all ages think. Teens are not having too much forced on them when they read this book, but they are being challenged, in a way, to take a look at their life and the world they live in. And that’s the best part about books, I think. They make you think.

    This book is not very different from 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 in the way that it deals with such complicated issues. In fact, I would argue that books like 1984 are LESS suitable for preteens than The Hunger Games is, because those books weren’t written with the preteen/teen audience in mind.

    Of course, it is your personal decision whether or not to let your child read this book, but you need to see past any ideas you might have about this book and give them credit. I was ten years old when I read the first book – I’ve never been able to stand the sight of blood in large quantities, I’ve always been really sensitive – and this book didn’t give me nightmares, nor has it ever, so…there’s that.

    In conclusion…it’s your decision, in the end. But before you say no, I would reccomend opening up your heart and giving these books a real chance. The Wikipedia/Amazon/parental guide pages for this book can in no way convey the valuable lessons that lie between the sentences, in the pages, waiting to be inferred, waiting to be thought about.

    • Julia says

      Thank you, this is what I was trying to explain when I first posted. I personally was really shocked at how many people hated the Hunger Games on this site.

    • Heather says

      Children do NOT think like adults!! this is a terrible terrible movie for anyone under 18. I totally disagree! I, as an adult, get what you are saying but….. NOT FOR TEENS!! This was teens KILLING teens… HEllo!! What did you say was good about this movie?!

      • Kirstin says

        Heather, how old do you have to be to enlist in the military? (18) Would you like to let our government know that if reading a fictional morality tale is not okay for 14-17 year-olds, then forcing boys to register for selective military service at 18 must not be okay either?

        I understand that it’s a fine line to walk, but just as it’s bad to burden teenagers with violent images, it is also bad to raise them entirely unprepared for the world, a world that does contain war and oppression. Parents need to do their best to walk this line, and the older the “child” is, the more I think they ought to err on the side of preparation.

        • Dick says

          Kirstin you only have to be 17 to enlist in the military. There was a few 17 year old in Iraq with me. One of them Elliot Ruiz was only 17 when he received a purple heart and injuries that gave him full retirement pension from the military.

          • Kirstin says

            That’s for the perspective, Dick. Allow me to quote from “Mockingjay,” the final book of “The Hunger Games” series, “Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences.” I don’t think the horrified reactions by these mothers are inappropriate, but I think they fail to realize that Suzanne Collins is horrified too. We already play with the lives of our children.

        • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! says

          Kirstin you only have to be 17 to enlist in the military. There was a few 17 year old in Iraq with me. One of them Elliot Ruiz was only 17 when he received a purple heart and injuries that gave him full retirement pension from the military.

    • too much too soon says

      I think the books were a great read. They were very interesting and absolutely made you think. I would not recommend them for anyone under 12. Even then I would hope parents would talk about the books with their children at any age. I understand you think they could ‘handle’ the material, but do they need to? In my mind, it’s more desensitizing of our youth. Video games, tv, and books….it’s way too much too soon and we are bombarded with it daily. What happend to Little House on the Prarie? I know, I know….one can dream though.
      It’s not healthy to put someone in front of another human, kill them and then say….that’s what you shouldn’t do. I doubt that works. Just sayin’

  21. Cisco says

    What is the point of this?
    This is the Roman colosseum stuff all over again except on big screen TV and now just for kids. Let’s all watch while some child gets murdered by another peer! Now Hollywood and mainstream media have to shove more violent crap down our KIDS throats. They/we are exploiting OUR children!! Why are we “OK” with this?? Oh yes, there is such a great social message about inequality and good and evil our children must be able to learn from it. Plus there’s millions of dollars to be made off kids by the entertainment industry!
    Our world goverments, financial crisis, climate change, social and economic injustices are so profound in our world today that now we not only leave this cock-up mess for our kids to clean up but now give them the message at age 13 that they are responsible to fix it! Why aren’t any of the adults that got us here held accountable? Cause it’s easier to exploit our kids! Oh yes, and when we have school shootings (kids killing kids) we are all so shocked and surprised. Why do we love violence so much and why are we so stupid?

  22. christine says

    I continue to be disturbed by the “if it makes you read then it’s great” mentality.. regardless of content. How about writing instead of reading? In our sensation crazed society, that’s all that matters, right? ANYthing to make the little darlings pick up a book instead of the Wii. It is unfortunate that we disregard the message.. there certainly have to be better books available that glorify heros, standing for eachother and what is right, etc. ( remember Shakespeare, anyone?) than one describing i.e. (one of many scenes) a child being slowly eaten alive by the “mutts”.. in a suit of armor that leaves only his extremities and face exposed. I mean, really???? I’m no religious nut by any stroke of the imagination but does anyone even believe in faith in God in the face of adversity any more? You NEVER find “that” topic mentioned in any teen friendly book unless it’s someone slaying angels or something similar. All we do as society is swoon over the romanticism of evil and turn a blind eye while our very basic freedoms are taken right out from under us and more importantly, our children. I suggest everyone re-read 1984 and Brave New World and maybe turn your kids onto reading THOSE if you want them to understand evil and torture and then decide for yourselves how close we are to that in current society and what we can do as the adults to stop it instead of sticking our heads in the sand and romanticising such scenarios in our children’s minds.

  23. Liz says

    So, as long as it gets your kids reading veraciously, it doesn’t matter what the content is? I’m sickened by these books. That our society doesn’t seem the least bit bothered that these children are being forced to kill each other for entertainment! Many schools are requiring these books for 6th graders! And parents can’t opt them out of it. I have a major problem with that!

    • Rachel says

      I understand your concerns….did you tell school officials that you are upset that you are unable to opt your child out of reading “Hunger Games?” Where I live 72% of my property taxes go the the public schools….parents views need to be respected. Each parent knows what their child can or cannot handle. I had one child who got nightmares from “Finding Nemo.” My other two weren’t as sensitive. If a child is violent at all or can’t tell reality from fantacy , maybe Hunger Games isn’t a good choice until he/she is more mature. No two are alike and gov’t run institutions shouldn’t force your child to read it if you say “no.”

    • Mickey boy says

      What do you mean parents CAN’T opt out? I’m in liberal CT and I can’t WAIT for my sons school to TRY and tell me what he can and cannot do. IM IN CHARGE. He will do as I direct not some demented liberal board of Ed , principal or teacher. YOU CAN TAKE THIS TO THE BANK.

  24. Benny Lopez says

    When my child read the hunger games, and she is 12, and I dont think it is innapropriate so all of you guys need to calm down and if they can handle it you dont have to worry about it

    • Rachel says

      I allowed my children to read it, but I absolutely respect parents who say it’s not for their child. Telling a parent to “calm down” is very insulting. Some children may be more sensitive or may even be prone to violence and maybe should not read about children killing children to survive.

  25. Leigh says

    I have a confession to make: I had earlier stated that I would not let my 12 year old read the book, and sanctimoniously stated that we cannot expose our kids to violence, such as that presented in the book. I have since done more research, and have compared what is in this book with other books that have captured my daughter’s attention and have gotten her voraciously reading: Harry Potter, Series of Unfortunate Events, etc. I also thought about the books which captured my imagination when I was her age: Lord of the Flies, 1984, other “classics” we all accept now as actual classics. We must also remember how Harry Potter was villified, called “satanic,” yet no other book has encouraged our kids to embrace reading since (maybe this one is). I’ve come to the conclusion that if the book has the “right” (i.e. moral) message, that heroes strive for what’s right, that they defend each other, and do not not compromise themselves, the book is ok. Granted, I think each parent should judge their kids’ maturity level and decide accordingly. But I have decided to let my daughter read this book, and I don’t think she’ll be forever marred (just as I wasn’t when I “snuck” watching “A Clockwork Orange” and “Amityville Horror” on HBO in the 70’s…somehow I survived and the impression they made on me might not have been altogether bad).

  26. says

    I’m almost 13 and i’ve read the Hunger Games and i’m now on Catching Fire,the 2nd one and I think its the best book i’ve ever read,I took it everywhere and read it but anyway it really depends on the maturity level.There can be alot of gore,kissing and fighting etc.Like if he or she can’t handle some of the content than no.My parents let me read them because they thought I could handle it and no mean to brag but I read like 2 years above grade level so yea.I have a little sister who really wants to read it but I don’t know if she should yet cause it doesn’t seem just right her age level to me but i’ve seen like 3rd graders reading so again maturity is really all that matters.


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