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!)?
If I’m being honest I just like the idea that kids do not understand the problems happening in our world some of the best speeches that I’ve heard my 10-year-old daughter understands and even adds to the concept violence and gore is Something that I do not like that much so to watch the movies she has to be 13 if she wants to be alone and 12 if she wants to do it with me. Or my wife. But to read the books I think that she can understand at the age of 10.
Thank you for keeping this post up and not archiving this thread. I used it with my students to discuss opposing viewpoints and where many arguments for banning books come from. It helped them understand why some people would argue against a book, what misinformation often leads to it being banned, and really riled them up to read more banned books.
That’s very cool! It’s been so many years since I wrote this post that I had forgotten just how controversial it was at the time. Now that my girls are 17 and 19, our conversations about what is appropriate have shifted quite a bit. 🙂
I mean I don’t like the idea(for the beginning of my comment)
My daughter’s 6th grade Language Arts class assigned this book as one of 3 books they will be reading and using for their writing assignments. At first I was concerned, but after speaking to the teacher about it, my concerns were addressed as to the context of the assignments with the book. If you pick apart the book and look past the violence and focus more on the personal morals of the characters and what families value and then look at what’s going on in the world around us, how different is the book from reality. I have quit watching television all together so I am not up to date with most current affairs. The daily news became more horrifying than some of the scariest movies I’ve watched. At least the movies are fiction, the news is not. There is not one day that goes by that there isn’t a story reported in the news of rape, murder, dead bodies found, scandal in the White House or local politicians, the list goes on. So after looking at the book from that perspective I hate to say but the world in which we live is far worse than the Hunger Games books.
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.
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.
Your comment shows very clearly that you haven’t read the books.
I agree with Danielle, but that is what I thought before reading/watching.
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.
i tins its perfectly fine for kids
i know when i was 9 years old i saw and read it i was in love i would do effie trinket voices intil the kids at school said a girl dies from bees and its violent but it depends on the kids
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.
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. 🙂
I’d say that people are gonna talk, and you can’t control that. My daughter is currently reading and enjoying the hunger games series, and she is only 8. That said, it really just depends on how mature your daughter is. Would you want to read the books to a messy five year old? Of course not. But a responsible, mature twelve year old/11 year old? I think that’s fine.
Just go with your gut, in my opinion.
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.
jeff fastmann 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
IMHO, with all due respect, I believe, movies, and curriculums have been putting us on a very slippery slope. Does true freedom come with murder? Your conscience may withstand it, but it is not freedom, until you can be healed from it. How can it be freedom satisfying the sick, twisted minds of a degenerative audience? Many of these things bring us to a lack of compassion, love for one another. All in the name of survival of the fittest. I definitely believe God isn’t smiling in any of this. Thankfully, I believe he is sick and tired of the perversion setting the scene for our children, and what we have tolerated and allowed as a nation to exist and continue. It’s already happening all over the world if you can only open your eyes to see. He will expose it all. I give him all the praise for it. I’m with Pastor.
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! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
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 .
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.
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.)
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.
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.
should i read it im 8
When your 9 I’d say the hunger games would be good. I might wait on the others tough.
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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’
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?
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
Just because a teacher, a mature 11 year old, an “open minded” parent or a typical soup stirrer may think the book series and movie are appropriate for kids, it doesn’t mean they have any idea or authority as to what’s appropriate for MY kid.
I and only I (spouse included) make the decisions as to what my children will be exposed to and at what age. That’s my job and I take it quite seriously. I certainly don’t see the benefit in participating in a discussion with cyber-strangers who seem to have this need to voice their adamant opinions as to why the parent would be wrong about what THEIR children are ready for. You have no idea.
I’m not a “typical soup stirrer.” I wrote this post because I genuinely wanted feedback from others and was working through the decision for my family. If you “certainly don’t see the benefit in participating in a discussion with cyber-strangers,” why did you even bother to search about it or post?
What in my comment would make you think any of it referred to you? I was very careful with my wording and perhaps if you re-read it you’ll find see that you couldn’t have been the target of my thoughts.
My remarks had to do with those who are ADAMANT about a parent being WRONG for choosing to NOT to let their child read the book or watch the movie. Your question was “Is the Hunger Games appropriate reading for your kids?” Many responded yes it is or no it isn’t. What struck me were the comments made specifically to those who said that it isn’t appropriate for their kids.
I didn’t think the angle of your question was intended to spur insensitive comments from people who think parents who won’t expose their kids to these books are out of touch or over protective. My point was that only the parent knows and it’s not up to others to disagree to the level that many have. I know my kids. They don’t.
Internet discussions always end up like this and you’re right…I shouldn’t have participated.
Benny Lopez says
Then keep your mouth shut, old man.
You are taking this way to seriously I love the hunger games books. I coulod not leave this website or a lot of other web sites without saying anything. I can have my own opinion whether you agree with it or not
So much controversy. As a parent of 4 and a pediatric psych nurse, I say please parents lets allow our kids to just be kids for a little longer. I might have complained when my parents censored some of what I was able to do , see, and read at certain tines in my youth, but they did it for my own well being. I have seen too many kids in trouble because they were allowed to “grow up” too soon. I’m not saying that they should never read these books or others like them, just that it should be delayed for most. We have thrown so much trash in the faces of our kids these days it’s down right disturbing. Murderous video games, 16 and pregnant, Snooki, off the top of my head. Then complain about the decline of decency in our society with each new generation. Just let kids be kids and take the time they need to mature enough to properly manage the themes of these and other similar books and movies.
I am an elementary teacher, not a parent. I’ve read all 3 books and loved them. Ultimately I think it’s up to the parent to know their child and to know what books they are reading. That said, I do cringe when I see elementary students reading them. I tend to agree with the “teen” comments, but every child IS different and if your child can handle it and you discuss it with them it’s doable. I also think if you let your child watch PG13 movies or play violent video games it’s hypocritical not to let them read a book with similar content.
I like your even-handed comment, Laura. I also love the books and agree that this is just a case for good parental judgment (and knowledge of ones children).
Moms and Dads, be strong! Young adult means young *adult* – teens and up. (And if I had a 13 or 14 year-old, it depend on his or her maturity whether I’d let him or her read it.) If you don’t feel comfortable letting your <13 year-old read it, trust your instincts! (I wasn't allowed to see "The Empire Strikes Back" at age 10 because it was too violent, and was never allowed to watch the "G.I. Joe" cartoons. I turned into a normal person who is sensitive to violence, as we ought to be!) And as bad as the violence is in the first book, the psychological abuse of the third book is at least as bad (do you want your kids reading about forced male prostitution? About a whole family being wiped out to punish a victor?). You need to treat this series as you would any dystopia: V for Vendetta, 1984, Animal Farm, Children of Men, The Handmaid's Tale, etc. If those books are too intense/scary for your adolescent, then forget about the Hunger Games. Yes the series has a happy ending, but they are just as intense and scary along the way. Hold your ground!
“…trust your instincts!” Thank you so much! That is exactly what we, as parents, need to do! My 13-yr old daughter is very upset that I won’t let her see the Hunger Games movie; all of her friends are seeing it this weekend. It will be very awkward for her to tell her friends that she’s not allowed to see it, and she’ll feel like the odd person out. Knowing the impact it will have for her socially makes me waiver and reconsider, but I’ve held strong in the past and I will this time too. My instinct tells me that the level of violence and gore (bloody scenes) in the Hunger Games movie is not appropriate for her.
Her friends are watching tv shows full of teen romance/sex, violence and other content that I do not feel is appropriate. Her friends really are good kids, but I worry that the disparity in what they are exposed to vs. what my daughter is exposed to is going to cause social problems for my daughter in the not-too-distant future. As a parent, I am being forced to walk a very fine line between what she needs to be socially accepted and what I feel is appropriate. Thankfully, she is a very independent, opinionated kid with leadership traits who isn’t afraid to be different. That will help!
I’d never let anyone under 18 read this. What ever happened to the classics that we were raised on? They didn’t hurt us, they made us better. This book is a complete rip-off of Battle Royale anyway. I cannot believe this book/movie is up for discussion as appropriate for kids – why don’t we add to the discussion whether or not any of the ABC Family shows are appropriate either, or just about anything in mainstream media that is aimed at our kids today? Tune out mainstream and tune into good stuff like our family does – PBS, Discovery, etc and even then you have to pick & choose! Just use your head and the things your Mom and/or Dad taught you – right vs. wrong. Your moral compass.
I agree with you on this one. There is way too much discussion about this book and movie. There is no benefit to letting your kid read the book or see the movie. Lionsgate would disagree since they have tens-of-millions of dollars invested in the project. I have no problem saying no. I am not hear to be my kid’s friend – I am here to be their parent.
What about “Lord of the Flies”, “The Most Dangerous Game”, “Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “Hamlet”, “Romeo & Juliet”? All classics, all literature I’ve read, all dealing with death and murder.
Mrs. Orman says
I agree with Bnpositive and would also like to know which classics you would read with 7th-12th graders? I cannot think of a single one that would be appropriate for teens given the standards you have set forth. Please, enlighten me with some titles. The reason I ask is that we do like to provide alternatives for students whose parents object; what would you suggest as a good alternative for a dystopia? Or any genre for this age group?
I remember another book I read in school that I loved was “Alas, Babylon”. At the time it was probably the largest book I’d ever read. I should also say I really enjoyed “Ivanhoe”, “The Jabberwocky”, and absolutely hated “Wuthering Heights”!
I, too, have been an English teacher (high school and college level) for years. You cannot compare Hunger Games with Shakespeare! Although Shakespeare’s plays and other literature do deal with gruesome subjects, I have never seen Shakespeare play with the thought of children killing children as Hunger Games does. There is a huge difference.
I hated to read “Lord of the Flies” for the same reason that I dislike “Hunger Games,” which is that the authors are creating a frame of “Now think, readers, about whether you’d dare kill your peer” for readers to peer through.
Yes, because stabbing someone who may or may not be a dictator and then covering your hands in his blood isn’t even a little violent.
And…as I recall, it was teenagers who killed one another in Romeo and Juliet.
Frankly, the Hunger Games is a FANTASTIC way to give high school kids a connection to Julius Caesar and Roman Brutality in general. The brutality of the Hunger Games actually makes them think about the images, media, and music they themselves absorb on a daily basis.
I remember reading and being very disturbed by Lord of Flies when I was in high school! I also remember wondering why such a disturbing story was called “literature”, and who on earth decides that books like those are worthy of the status they have been afforded.
But did you read “Lord of the Flies”, “Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “Hamlet”& “Romeo & Juliet” in elementary school or even middle school? No, these are on the reading lists of HIGH SCHOOLERS. And the violence in “The Hunger Games” is considerably more graphic and gruesome. Young adult means teen, does it not?
You can choose what is right for your child, and far be it from me to tell you otherwise (since who am I anyways?), but child psychologists and early childhood development experts would say that children aren’t small sized adults. Their brains are in development, and just because you allow your kid to play a violent video game or watch/read “The Hunger Games”, doesn’t mean they understand it in the way you or I, as adults, understand it. In fact, research shows very clearly that kids exposed to these things too early are more likely to be violent.
This is a complex parable that has elements of adult life many kids haven’t even been exposed to yet. Are we supposed to believe because they’ve had a chance to run in student government, that somehow they should understand totalitarianism? Or righteous killing? Or the mixture of love and death? Really? My kids are still digesting UC Davis, Occupy Oakland, UC Berkeley, and no one actually died in those instances. I’m in NO RUSH to let them read these just because some other parent buys without considering what they are buying.
I think you need to keep in mind that all of that content is designed for one thing: To make money. In their eyes, it is not their responsibility to protect children, but to protect SHAREHOLDERS. They actually hope (and trust) that there are parents who just feed their kids whatever they are told is fine for them. It works for Disney TV, McDonalds, and LionsGate too.
I would highly recommend two documentaries: “Consuming Children” and “MissRepresentation”, both which can be found on-line. Give yourself 2 1/2 hours to consider that these documentaries are saying, and see if it doesn’t just change your mind. I’ll wager it will. These are your kids we are talking about, don’t make arguments like “Gee, I turned out alright”, because anecdote is a bad way to raise your kid. Just consider the commercialism that is rampant here. This is not designed as a book/movie to enlighten or age-appropriately bring complex themes into your child’s life for thoughtful discussion: This is about money. And your willingness to hand it over on your assumption (guess) that your kid can handle it.
There are some pretty far-reaching assessments of those who don’t agree that young children should be encouraged/allowed/required to read the Hunger Games. Comments are being tossed about as to…
“sheltering kids forever” – determining whether a book is appropriate for a child does not mean parents intend to shelter their kids forever. These two do not go hand-in-hand. We would be doing our kids a grave disservice if we were to do this.
“over-controlling parents” – again, by keeping our children from reading about kids killing other kids does not mean we’re “over-controlling.” What it does mean is that we take great care in determining what enters our children’s minds. That is our job as parents. Just as it is our job as parents to keep our children’s hands from a hot stove, it is also our job to keep their hands from reaching for media that can “burn” and “scar” their psyches and, possibly, their souls as a result of being exposed to gruesome images and disturbing themes they’re not ready to deal with. Once those images and themes are in their sponge-like minds, they’re almost impossible to get out.
“censorship won’t help, but open dialogue will” – My daughters and I have as open a dialogue as it comes. There isn’t anything that they can’t come to me with, nor that I don’t broach with them, that is – at the appropriate time and/or in the appropriate manner. In fact, my 10-year-old and I both discussed the Hunger Games’ theme and jointly determined it wasn’t appropriate reading material for her. She felt strongly about it despite being one of only a few kids who isn’t reading the book at her school – including some of her best friends, the popular kids, etc. I am very proud of her for making her own decision (with my whole-hearted support!) about skipping this book. She has learned that messages and ideas that we “consume” – both good and bad – stick with you. They shape who you are and how you see the world. She already knows that evil exists. She knows that not everyone is her friend. But, she did not have to learn this by being “over-exposed” to these messages.
There are also assumptions being made that our children have been allowed or decided to read on their own other questionable materials that are targeted to these age groups. As for our household, we have not. If the material does not pass our age-appropriate criteria or the benefits do not outweigh the negative aspects of it, then we don’t read, watch or listen to it – regardless of how “unpopular” the decision is with others. Mind you, I make sure I “brief” my daughters on what the latest popular culture is raving about. One, so that we can discuss the main themes and elaborate as to how they fit into our beliefs. But, also, and just as important, so that they don’t feel like outcasts. So, they know, in general, about what everyone else is talking about and don’t feel ignorant or left out. In fact, it empowers my 10-year-old to know that she has made the decision that was right for her in not reading this book.
Another term being tossed about as to who should read this book is the “mature” child. Yet, it seems that the more accurate term – or phrase rather – should be the “adequately de-sensitized” child. The word “maturity” generally means having reached full growth or development – in this case, we’re talking about reaching full development in the ability to stomach the idea of kids killing other kids? Shoot, I’m in my late 40s, and I’m not “mature” enough to deal with this concept!
So, give us parents the benefit of the doubt that we don’t have our heads in the sand nor do we walk this Earth with rose-colored glasses. We see and hear what’s going on in the “real” world – making our jobs as hard as they get! We’re trying to raise children who don’t succumb to the despair, violence and tragedies that are prevalent in our world today, as well as to instill in them hope, love, faith and the desire to right wrongs, while helping them grow protective skins and providing them with enough knowledge of what they will face as they prepare to enter their adult lives…
Sandra, you explained my feelings more intelligently than I did. Thank you.
I agree with you Sandra – it’s up to parents to help raise a loving, caring, feeling, compassionate, respectful, thinking, aware child/kid. As a Mom of 5 beautiful children (3 of whom are adults already), I can say that while we would love to shelter and protect our kids as long as we can, it is unrealistic to say we could do it forever! It’s realistic however to say that we can at least try to keep them from exposure to things that they aren’t mature enough, or ready to experience yet. I think people just need to go back to the old way of teaching kids right vs. wrong, the golden rule, etc. Just common sense! God bless
Sandra! YES, a thousand hurrahs. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us our thinking and feeling! I am with you on this one, and flummoxed as to how so many feel this book/movie is ok for our kids. With so many brilliant books written all the time, isn’t it interesting that these are the kinds that are pushed on our kids? Scholastic was the publisher. Our schools, the department of education, I would like to know who is choosing what our children will be reading…
Sandra..Brava!!! I had just vented with my husband my frustration with comments such as, “depends on the maturaity of the child”! Among the many others , you said it brilliantly! Our 10 year old girls would probably be best friends! My girl also came to her own conclusion.
“adequately de-sensitized” child
That is exactly the wording I needed to describe my child! I was not able to put into words why she is not ready for the Hunger Games movie, but that term is exactly why. Her lack of exposure to increasingly violent content means that she is not adequately desensitzed to be able to handle Hunger Games. She is not ready for this movie! I think I already pushed the envelope by reading to her the first paragraph of the voilence & gore section of tht IMDB parents’ guide of Hunger Games. But now she understands my decision!
sarah s. says
@christel I can understand where you are coming from, but as the daughter of a ex-detective who caught some of the biggest gangs and mobs in Miami (my dad also got a few letters of thanks and congratulations from government officials) and having a stepmother who basically takes pictures of dead people for a living, I have had to deal with understanding that there is evil in the world, yet there is even more good. We cannot hide the fact that bad things happen to good people any longer. This, this (no offence) stupidity that people can tell their children thtat everyone is good is what gets little, innocent children kidnapped. If you let them know that there is bad, and slowly introduce them to it, they will understand. But it is vitally important that you do let them know that there is MORE good than evil in the world and that good WILL eventuality conquer evil. What I am saying is that sometimes its good to expose your children to some type of evil, because they will finally realize that not everyone is their friend. Does that mean to take your five year old to see the movie. No. Maybe your 11 or 12 year old if you think they are mature enough. Thirteen would probably be the best age. So, in conclusion, please, both mothers and fathers, don’t hide children from reality, because maybe they will appreciate the good even more.
There is so much good in this world to read and do. In a lifetime, there won’t be enough time to experience all that’s worthy.
I don’t want to waste my children’s time on something that is just almost worthy of our time, almost decent, almost inspiring, almost educational, almost good.
No way are we going to see this movie. I don’t care how many other people are.
Very well put. I agree
Thesedays, everything is about the almighty dollar anyway – all media is about making money, selling things, and the more hype corporations can attribute to a vehicle (such as this movie), the more cash there is to be made, period. As my big Sis, a Columbia University educated Cum Laude graduate always tells me – just follow the money, and you’ll find the truth.
@Nick: What trailer is this? There is no trailer for the Hunger Games that shows any scene of the Games. It must have been a fan-made video.
They were from the Lionsgate trailers featured on Youtube.
Hm, that is strange. I’ve seen these trailers a billion times and I do not remember the scene with the teenage boy getting his throat cut. I also read a news article stating that the trailers of the Hunger Games have not revealed the actual games yet. Could you link me the trailer?
I saw an article in the NY Times about how the UK Banned the movie based on the 13 rating. They would not let Lionsgate release the movie until they changed the rating to the UK 15. Which is interesting since the UK is more liberal on movie ratings than the US. This shows how much power the movie industry has in this country. I saw the trailer linked to that article. I will try to find it again.
Not sure about the book, but I saw the trailers of the movie. I was shocked at the scene of a teenage boy getting his throat sliced, blood pulsating out of his throat, and the rating is PG-13. A parent would have to be nuts to let their kid see this movie. Just the premise of having kids battle each other to death makes me wonder where we are at in this culture. Aren’t there any other topics for 13 year olds to ponder?
I’m 16 years old, and I’m shocked at how many people are censoring this book for their children. Personally, I don’t believe that the Hunger Games should be on the recommended reading list for middle school, but I think it is definitely high school appropriate. My parents never tried to censor the books I read, only Harry Potter because I really wanted to read it when I was in 2nd grade but they thought it was too advanced for me. I was allowed to read it when I turned 10 and I am a huge fan, waiting every year for the books to come out. I also read His Dark Materials when I was in 6th or 7th grade because I got it as a birthday present from one of my mom’s friend. Twilight I read in middle school too, and to be honest most people knew about sex before we got to the reproduction unit in 7th grade.
I only started reading these dystopia, controversial novels in high school, however. Freshman year I read 1984, All Quiet on the Western Front; sophomore year I read A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; and this year as a junior I read Tess of the D’urbervilles, Heart of Darkness, and Brave New World. All these books have controversial, adult themes, but I don’t think reading them necessarily corrupts kids as many parents seem to be worried about here. If anything, it makes kids think and the discussions we have in class and essays I write on these books are the best ones I’ve ever written. These pieces of literature are pretty deep and I think the controversial themes just allow us to be able to express our own opinions and make our own decisions as we grow up and begin to face the world on our own. Books like The Hunger Games and all of the above mentioned are great for teens, in my opinion, because they force us to question all aspects of our lives, and in a sense prepare us for the world as we start applying to colleges and leave our hometowns.
That being said, my sister is in middle school and she read The Hunger Games before me, and she was actually the one who recommended it to me. I’m sure that at least in middle school, teachers don’t recommend controversial books just yet, but in high school students should definitely be exposed to some of the themes present in The Hunger Games, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies…etc. Sheltering your kids forever will only hurt them in the future.
I guess I live under a rock because when my daughter age 10 asked me if she could read The Hunger Games I had no idea what it was. I went on line and read the plot line and I was utterly horrified. I immediately told her no. My co-worker overheard the conversation and jumped in saying it was a great book and she had no trouble letting her children read it when they were my daughter’s age. She said Harry Potter is much more violent and less scary. Now I was forced the read the book to make a more informed decision. I finished it in less than three days. I really enjoyed it and found myself interested till the end. I also found the comments above to be very interesting and educating. The wide range of emotions and points of view show how great the Hunger Games really is. To me, it is a thought experiment combining 1984 and Lord of Flies. Both of I which I read for the first time after the age of 18. Now, if at the age of 45 I am not sure whether I can deal emotionally with some of these topics. I doubt my very mature 10 year old has any of the emotional skills and building blocks to do so. I will not let her read it for many years and hope it is not required reading in high school or earlier.
Well said, we all need to wake up and be alert to our responsibility to our children as their parents.
Brad, “Lord of the Flies” is middle-school reading material, and “1984” is high school. I’m with you completely on not letting a 10 year-old read them, but I guarantee you that if your daughter were 15, she’d be reading dystopic literature in school. And adult dystopias don’t have happy endings.
Randi, what you wrote was beautifully said. As a social worker, I have heard countless horror stories from kids who were abused, abandoned, neglected, etc. You start to feel that the world is a very ugly, dark place when you hear of these horrors. It is for exactly that reason that my home and my yard is my sanctuary. I’ve created beautiful gardens with colorful flowers and butterflies to share with my daughter as a reminder to us that there is still beauty in this world. That is how I cope with the other side. The Hunger Games only reinforces how easy it is to destroy a child’s innocence.
So eloquently and well said, Regina – and from an individual such as yourself who sees the reprocussions of uncaring, disregard, and disrespect when a child is subjected to it. That’s what we call our home – A SOFT PLACE TO FALL, away from the world.
I am 52 years old and the mother of an 11 year old. I live in Los Angeles and formerly worked in the movie business. My husband still does. We unplugged our TV the year my daughter was born and it is probably the single most gratifying thing I’ve ever done in terms of my parenting and in my evolution as a person.
I am absolutely horrified at the thought of reading the Hunger Games for entertainment. Having read about the book’s subject matter when it was first published, I decided, like more and more books and movies that are made now, to abstain. I am at the phase in my life where I feel that it is all too easy to slip into despair and fatalism about the state of the world on just a regular, daily, basis.. As a parent, (heck even just as a citizen) I don’t see how you could not reside in a state of absolute panic about what goes on in the world if you have half a brain. There is so much hate and violence and sadism toward women and children committed by real people in our world, not just characters in a fiction, that I cannot justify spending my spare entertainment time with more of it, no matter how well written or reviewed.
All violence in entertainment is justifed (I’ve been in on these meetings myself about scripts before) – dial into any discussion about it and you’ll hear the arbiters of taste telling us how important it is to include the “accurate” and “well-imagined” depictions of violence in the story because it is “art” or because “it renders a complete and accurate portrayal of the characters and their motivations”. blah blah blah. Let’s be honest: violence sells. The Hunger Games has sold 11 million copies. It’s an industry unto itself that has made a select few very rich. It’s in their best interest to keep the franchise going in all ways possible. And just because 11 million people have drunk the kool aid on this one (and teachers are willing to have 9 year olds read it in their classroom and “discuss”), doesn’t make it worthy of other childrens’ or teenagers’ engagement. And don’t kid yourselves about Hollywood’s motivations, either. They’d create a real game show based on the Hunger Games if they thought they could get away with it.
A little piece of my soul dies when I have to explain to my lovely innocent girl what murder is, and why there are homeless people, and why there are policeman, and what stealing is, and what war is, ad nauseum. She’ll be exposed to all the ugly things that people can do to one another and to the weaker smaller gentler among us, soon enough.
Once you see these things, though, you can’t un-see them. And my own brain is littered with countless of these moments enough as it is . Knowing these horrific things doesn’t “enlighten me”. It doesn’t make me want to go out and camp with the Occupy movement more than I already want to. It doesn’t make me want to stop child prostitution in Pakistan any more than I already do. It doesn’t make my heart weep any less for the abused, the old, the sick or the war torn.
What it DOES make me want to do is take my child out to the mountains and hold her warm little hand as we walk down a trail lined with new spring wildflowers under an azure sky . This is the real world. It’s as real and as beautiful as anything you could make up in a story. And it doesn’t make me want to scream in anguish about the damage that it’s doing to her psyche or mine.
God bless you Randi – it’s so gratifying, comforing, and just plain good to hear that there are people in this world who want to leave it having made it better for future generations, and who try to instill and support good things in and for our children.
yes! Again. thank you for posting, this is what I would say to all the teachers and parents out there. How can this message get out? I don’t think the parents are paying attention
mrs. p says
I was looking for a little information about the Hunger Games for children when I found this site I can’t believe how mean you women are. Someone has an opinion that perhaps is different than your own and you thrash her to bits. I’m sure we all have better things to do with our time.
I just finished the trilogy, have read a number of the comments and will add my own. When I was in 5th grade in the late 1970s, dystopian stories shared by the teacher had a profound effect that lingers all these years later.
I am amazed at how well the author handled such tricky material (e.g., children as pawns in horrific games). There is nothing gratuitous in the violence, which is presented with authentic consequences (as are the results of drug abuse, death, lies, and starvation).
In my opinion, “The Hunger Games” holds a place in the pantheon of Ayn Rand’s “Anthem” and George Orwell’s “1984”, in that a world is created that produces a sense of place that is horrifying in the sense of possibility.
I am sure that Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Prim, Haymitch, Rue, Snow, and the rest will be with me for a while.
That said, I will be waiting a while before I introduce them to my son.
Several parents are very worked up about this book, but please take into consideration that your children will be (or already has been) exposed to far more controversial subjects.
By 6th grade your child has probably learned about Greek gods and mystical creatures (the majority naked female-like creatures), the Aztecs human sacrifice, and the medieval use of the guillotine. This alone is probably far worse than the content of the hunger games.
By 7th grade they will know about sex, Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, probably will have read “worse” books, and perhaps know about prostitutes and the other scum of society.
You may stop your child from reading a book with great morals and implications, but you’ll never stop them from discovering the world.
(And just as a side note, there’s no actual “sex” in the book, just a brief mention of prostitution, and two or three mentions of sex appeal. There is nudity in the book, but not at all like the things these over-controlling parents have described. And nudity in the movie will either be off screen or mentioned, I’m estimating that the movie will get a pg-13 rating (No worse than the Star Wars or Lotr movies your kid has probably seen))
I didnt read the Hunger Games until this past year, at age 17 (which is plenty old enough). To put it into perspective, I read the first Harry Potter at 7, Twilight at 11 or 12, and the more controversial Breaking Dawn right when it came out when I was 14. I read and watched A Clockwork Orange when I was 16. Saw Saving Private Ryan at 12 or 13. Ill admit that the deeper meaning of His Dark Materials eluded me when I first read the series at 12, but when I re-read it at 16 I understood.
Judging by the themes and content, I’d say high school age is probably the “right age”, but everyone is different. My brother read this book before it was popular, when he was only 11, and he could handle it just fine. I probably would have been the same way. My sister’s 12 now, and I dont really think she’s mature enough.
If I’d read it in middle school, though, I would have had a very different interpretation of it than I do now, as a senior in high school. Back then I would have read it as an interesting piece of fiction, and not as the ethical, emotional story it is. Im nearly 18 now though, and I have a certain understanding of the moral decisions and sacrifices made in the story.
At the end of the day, though, its just entertainment. It depends on the kid and the parent to figure out if their child is ready for it. A mature middle schooler could handle it, and nearly anyone could by age 13-14. There is no bad language (beyond words like “hell”), no sex (though a few uses of words like “sexy” and mild references), and even though the violence is plentiful and somewhat graphic, it is not so extreme thatan otherwise great story should be off limits to mature preteens and teens.
It does include some adult content like kissing and bad language at times and can be very gory. I think a good age.would be at least 13.
danny boy says
i recently started and its great im 12 and i think it is age appropiate if your mature
i recently started and its great im 12 and i think it is age appropiate if your mature
All that when I was 4. Am I a normal person now? Yes! Children are exposed a lot more nowadays, Everyone in our school have read the books, everyone knows about sex. There were people in our school who got pregnent because they DIDN’T know about the risks. So I just think that’s everyone should go pick up this book today and go see the move and enjoy it.
Hi, I’m thirteen years old and is in the seventh grade. Our entire seventh grade is going to see the movie the Friday after it comes out. We all read the Hunger Games and we all know about the political themes. I think you people on here are extravaganting the action. There are mabye 3 or 4 deaths that you hear about. Even when someone dies the author doesn’t go into detail. Shes more focused on the emotions of the herione (katniss). I think everyone should read the books and make their own opinions. You should also have to realize that children know a lot more than they should. I knew about sex and
The Hunger Games is a very, dare I say, tame series, compared to true dystopian novels. I would not let an eleven year-old read 1984, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or anything like that, despite that fact that they are, as far as literature goes, far superior to The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games has parts in it that are graphic, so if that’s what you want your child to avoid, fine, but what it doesn’t have are questions that truly challenge the reader, and make them think. It is cheap entertainment. If you want a dystopian novel that is age appropriate, at least in content, but more difficult, read Fahrenheit 451. That, at least has ideas in it. The Hunger Games is empty entertainment, but, entertainment, nonetheless.
Right, Matthew, because the parents commenting on this post are clearly lovers of dystopian literature. 🙂
Just finished reading Hunger Games. My granddaughter had it on her reading list for entering Middle School, and I was interested in what it was all about. I don’t think this book should be read without lots of discussion if read by a child getting ready to enter 6th grade. I look forward to dinner at her house so I can hear her thoughts on it. I’ll be guided by the many comments above in discussing the book with her. Thanks.
I used to be really strict on what my son, who is 11 years old, read and just as strict as what he watched. He has read the series and loved it. The reason I finally gave up and let him read what he wanted . (Book in Young Adults categories) is every time he reads a book from the Harry Potter Series, any of Rick Riordan, the series that starts out with Hatched and so on with just ending with Hunger Games series he wants me to read everyone of the books he reads so we can talk about it. Days after he finishes a book we have conversations what he thought of the book, how he would change it, and so on. We have more conversations in our home because of his reading books I may not find all the books that appropriate but find it worth it in the long run. I have a 11 year old boy who talks to his mother, so I will let him read. (Movies…however, if he reads the book I do let him watch the movies. If he hasn’t read the book he doesn’t get to watch the movie.)
Carol Kinman says
I love your prespective on this. I have done the same with my daughter, who is now 14, and it sparks a lot converesation between her and I. I started this when she wanted to read the Twilight series and I was hesitant about her reading it. Most of the time, I read the books as well so I have some idea of what she is reading.
Initially, I was horrified by this book and couldn’t believe my daughter wanted to read it. I don’t censor my daughter’s reading materials but try and discuss what she reads to understand her perspective.
When she asked to see the movie because all her friends were going, I wanted to say no. But she and I sat down and discussed the books together. I asked her what she got out of them and if she saw any parallels to our current society. Her response was an emphatic YES. She said that, because of this book, she wanted to become more involved in the government, to never let our vigilance down and let our government do to us what the government in “The Hunger Games” did to their society. She said we need to continuously monitor the laws they are making and ensure that they are doing our will and not becoming entertainment for the elite.
Brutality and horror aside, let’s look at what the book is telling us and how we can use it to have open discussions with our kids.
Censorship won’t help but open dialog will. Thank you for all the comments above. I appreciate the back and forth which helped me talk with my daughter and make an informed decision on this movie.
I have read all three books and so have my two older children, 14 and 16. I started reading the series after my eldest was required to read it for school and she told me the premise of the story. It sounded terrible. Our youth director at church advised me to read the books myself so that I could discuss them with my daughter. I am glad I did read them, unlike some of those posting here, because they were different than I expected. They are very anti-violence; in fact, I felt at times as if I were reading a lesson on what happens if we don’t get putt act together and live in harmony. As for letting kids read it, I don’t think the chronological age of the child is as important as his/her maturity level and your willingness to discuss it with them. I told my daughters the same thing about this that i have about other “controversial” books: it’s entertaining, it can make us think and maybe even learn, but remember that it’s fiction; it’ll never be as important as the Bible, which is full of violence, but also wisdom and truth.
Lovely response Heather and I think s very responsible and wise one.
Your daughter should read it!!!!! I CANNOT SAY THAT ENOUGH! Katniss doesn’t go “wheres my men wheres my men”, she actually takes charge and kicks but. I think your daughter should be exposed to that because Katniss is a great Action Heroine and proves that a man is not needed in a girls life for them to be “happy”. Twilight is great but I always hated that she need a man all the time. Katniss doesn’t need a man. I would consider letting her read the “Thirst” series by Christopher Pike. She is a EXTREAMLY strong female action heroine!
natalie hollar says
i would like to say that the hunger games are very appropriate for ten and up year olds, it has some violence but what difference is harry potter?
Mom in Texas says
We just moved to the San Antonio area and my daughter’s 4th grade class had read this together in class at the start of the school year. Since we just moved here, she is reading this recommended book and Im a little uncomfortable about the content. Our kids grow up too fast as it is. I think this book will be put back on the shelf for another year. I don’t think this is age appropriate for 9 year olds.
Mrs. Orman says
I agree. I think 4th grade is too young–especially for a whole-class novel. (Is it being taught as a whole-class, or was it just recommended to your daughter? If it was just recommended, I would have her ask the teacher/librarian for a different book choice, especially if you are uncomfortable with it. I don’t think I would have wanted my son to read it in 4th grade, either.) The publisher’s recommended age is 12 and up. For a whole-class novel, the teacher should decide if all her/his students are mature enough before selecting it. I teach it at the high school level and feel it is very appropriate for my age group of students. I know many middle school teachers have great success, but I really think even 6th grade is pushing it if it is required for all to read.
sarah s. says
I am a teen and I LOVE the Hunger Games. I’m going opening night for the movie with my 3 best friends too. I personally think it is the maturity level of the child and if you are comfortable with the subject matter. I would agree with you. Even though I just turned 11 when I first read them, I already read the whole Twilight saga, and saw the movies when I was about 8 or 9 in the fourth grade. I have known about the birds and the bees since about second grade. My parents had to be open about that because I, um, “matured”, pretty early, in fourth grade. So, once again, it all depends on what she already knows and how mature she is and if YOU are ready to expose her to that kind of stuff.
Tracy Fordham says
Go Tracee! I have been reading through these posts. I am a mother of 3 boys, aged 11, 12, and 13. I am ALSO a middle school language arts teacher (and a huge fan/follower of Mrs. Orman on TpT.) I have not seen students so thrilled and inspired to read in many years. My students are not caught up in the violence and love interest in the story. They are connecting with the characters. They appreciate the raw honesty in the writing. I have a husband who also served 22 years in the military and is a huge history “buff”. The history of our country and most others is tied to violence against the young and innocent. Teaching our children about this can prevent the mistakes of the past. The cross-curricular connections students make reading this series is amazing. They have a deeper understanding of democracy, moral understanding, and are enjoying rich literature. Many of the classical literature some of you are speaking of was controversial in its inception! All of this brings to mind the quote: “if only closed minds came with closed mouths.”
Why do you feel the need to insult others with your comment of “if only closed minds came with closed mouths”? The people posting here are referring to the appropriateness of the content of these books as they relate to young children – not because we don’t want our children to experience what meaningful literature has to offer. I’m a strong supporter of opening children’s minds to different experiences, thoughts, images, music, etc. … as long as they contribute to their healthy development – at the “right” stage of their lives.
The “worthy messages” in these books are probably what you are supporting – surely, not the “manner” in which they are conveyed? Surely, you’re not advocating that the ONLY way these messages can be delivered is through tales of extreme violence?
Some supporters’ rationales can be compared to something along the lines of … “Well, kids will have to learn about sex at some point. So, let’s let them watch pornography in middle or – even – elementary school. It’s a new, fresh idea! You know, they get so bored hearing about the birds and the bees from their parents, nonetheless! Plus, porn’s especially educational if it’s got a great story line that will keep their attention and teach them about government (or some other concept). Oh, and it’ll be great because I’d actually be getting opportunities to have conversations with my kid afterward!”
I doubt many would actually support this line of thinking. But these are some of the arguments that were made in support of “The Hunger Games” as it relates to violence being a necessary storyline to get “worthy” messages across to students who have somehow been reluctant to learn them in some other fashion.
Come on, folks! Who are you kidding? You are justifying your decisions in letting kids consume these books and other inappropriate media with faulty reasoning. Parents, don’t let yourselves be swayed by the media, by peers, by teachers who are advocating these types of books at too young of an age all in the name of “education” (or worse yet, just for “entertainment!”) What “type” of an education are our kids getting when they read these types of books? Ask yourselves that. Take a step back from all the hype and take a closer, more honest, look at your moral compass.
Also, Tracy, with respect to your comment of … “Many of the classical literature some of you are speaking of was controversial in its inception!” … Yes, true. But, will tales of extreme violence by children against children … for children’s consumption … ever be “in vogue?” Are we just being too “old-fashioned” or “prudish” in thinking that this should NEVER be acceptable fodder for young, impressionable minds? If you think so, so be it! I’d rather err in this vein than rear children who have violent, murderous tendencies or who are so traumatized that they’re scarred for life. These ideas can make a lasting, impactful, extremely negative impression on their psyches.
The books’ method of delivering its messages is what I am offended by. And, it’s not because I have a “closed” mind. Unfortunately, my mind was “opened” to these and other sad realities many years ago. I wish I hadn’t been exposed to them. But, tragically, that’s life. And, we do need to learn about these realities – when we’re better able to handle their gravity. This, so that we can teach our children that torture, murder and other evils are not acceptable! This, so that we can teach them that we should try with all our being to prevent them from ever happening again. But, we should not have to go into graphic detail to get these messages across to them at this age.
… On this topic…
It is the same with your arguments about the Bible being so violent and how seeing Christ on the crucifix is worse than kids reading about children torturing and killing other children. I am not about to let my children see the movie, “The Passion,” for them to learn the lessons of Jesus’ life. They (ages 10 and 4) learn this from their families. They attend church and faith formation classes. They know about good and evil. They know about the 10 commandments. They know about the Golden Rule. They have learned so many of the Bible’s messages, without being exposed to the details of the violence. They get the “G” rated version because that’s all they need to know about at this point in their intellectual, emotional and spiritual development. Yes, my 4-year-old is saddened by the image of Christ on the cross (as am I. I prefer to see images of the Risen Lord…) But, it offers the opportunity for us to discuss our beliefs. In order to share with her Jesus’ teachings, I don’t go into detail of “how” he was killed. I break out age-appropriate materials – bibles, books, movies, songs – that teach our faith’s history and messages in an age-appropriate manner.
As for your comment that prostitution is “only” mentioned in the latter books of the trilogy…It sounds like the people who read the first book get reeled into reading the rest of the trilogy – including the children.
Lastly, I noticed on one of the poster’s comments a link to your website through which you sell educational materials in support of “The Hunger Games.” I think that is a very important disclosure that should accompany your postings.
In closing, it’s wonderful that you are so passionate about teaching your students. Hopefully, you’ll note from the many posters’ comments here (and elsewhere) that it is the appropriateness of the vehicle – for these ages of students – that is in question and that it should not be promoted to them. I would imagine that they can get excited about learning the trilogy’s worthy themes in some other fashion – without having to wrestle with all of the disturbing subject matter.
Mrs. Orman says
I supplied the link on my posts because I wanted to make that very clear: I am a teacher, I teach this series at my high school, I share my resources with my fellow teachers. In all of my posts here you can click on my name or link to see my website.
I love to share my success story with other teachers who are struggling to find literature that will engage our students. I had several freshmen boys admit it was the first book they ever read cover to cover in their life. Reading the novels did not make them more violent, it made them more compassionate human beings. They wanted to help others via charity work and food drives. These are kids our society would label as “punks” who normally spent their time skateboarding in the parking lot. Instead, they wanted to read! And they wanted to help others. I’d say that’s pretty powerful.
Just as you are sharing your thoughts, which I respect as a parent, I am sharing what I have experienced first hand with over 200 teenagers (and many parents, librarians, and other teachers). In addition, I hear from thousands of teachers and students around the world telling me how much the series has moved them. There are a lot of great things happening because of these books. Check out the Imagine Better: Hunger Is NOT a Game Project through the Harry Potter Alliance. It is inspiring to see what teens can do when they continue to carry on the author’s purpose.
Karen Mann says
Does anyone attend church anymore in this country?? Our religious beliefs tell us not to kill each other. Do we take our children to church and preach one thing, and then take them to a movie and let them watch thekilling of children by other children? Where has religion gone in this country??? This book and its series is nothing but a waste of time! Lessons on how to treat one another, how to deal with death, how to deal with bad times, good times, can all be taught in the religious arena! Please, no more of this disgusting book!
Mrs. Orman says
Collins uses the same writing techniques used in the Bible. The story of Christ’s crucifixion is bloody, gruesome, gory, horrific. But do small children who hear of it year after year go out and try to nail people to a cross?
The image of Christ on a crucifix is everywhere (at least it is for me; I grew up Catholic and lived across the street from our church). Does seeing this (often) bloody image of a man nailed to a cross make people want to kill one another? If we used your logic and the arguments stated above, it would! But it does not make people more violent; it is used to teach a lesson. Even a small child understands this.
But here’s the thing: we can’t teach the same stories over and over. Kids get bored. They tune them out. So writers teach the same lessons in new ways that kids can understand and “get.”
The Hunger Games–and countless other novels that feature violent acts toward innocent victims–teach the SAME lessons taught in the Bible.
Are you kidding me? As a Catholic and a teacher, I find your comparison of the Bible to this book both ludicrous and disturbing. I see your line of thought, but then you jump the track. Perhaps you forget parts of the Biblical story-the part where Jesus tells Peter to put away his sword. Perhaps you are missing the hope that comes from the end of Christ’s story and the redemption it offers all of us sinners.
People I know have used this same argument to justify having young children protesting at abortion facilities. They argue, “Children see Jesus crucified. They need to know about the horrors of abortion.” Really? The story of Jesus’ crucification-yes he was innocent, thankfully does not end at the cross. I have yet heard an argument that validates telling a 3 or 4 year old that a mother is going to kill her baby.
In regard to the book. I have read it. So has my husband. Our 11 year old daughter will not. Perhaps when she is older. But right now I won’t encourage her to read a story where teenagers fight to the death. Kill or be killed. I don’t think we have to stoop to the level of “anything to get their attention” thinking to make a point.
Let our children be children. They have a whole lot more years to be a grown up.
Mrs. Orman says
I was not arguing that an 11-year old should read the novel. I was responding to Karen’s post that anyone who reads the novels has lost their “religion.” I was pointing out that the Bible is pretty violent itself, so saying that anything violent is anti-religious is hypocritical. In no way was I actually justifying the violence in either for young children.
Mrs. Orman says
I am shocked at the number of people who feel qualified to criticize a book without having read it. And, I’m sorry, but “flipped through” a book is not the same as reading it. Do you write reviews of movies without ever watching them? Criticize artwork without seeing it? Unless you have thoroughly read the novel, you should not weigh-in on the question asked, which was “Is The Hunger Games appropriate reading for your kids?”
And to set the record straight, the “prostitution” mentioned above is NOT in The Hunger Games. It is referred to in the second and third books of the trilogy. There is absolutely no mention of sex in The Hunger Games, unless you consider describing someone as “sexy”(i.e. Glimmer) as a mention of sex.
I seriously wonder which books you would find appropriate for teenagers? Certainly nothing written by Shakespeare, Twain, Dickens, or even Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird! The Diary of Anne Frank would be out of the question, as well. Oh, and definitely Edgar Allen Poe, who is always a favorite author–his work would be far too “gruesome” to read since most of his stories have a lot more “gore” than The Hunger Games. So which authors/books should teens read?
Do classics become classics because they are popular? Are they classics because of the “enlightenment” they offer to the minds of our children, too society in general? I was an advanced student through all my years in school. I had to read the “classics”. I hated them. I am now 42. I have 4 children and they attend public school. I am appalled by this book and it’s open armed welcome. It is well written violence. I find it sad that we feel the need to feed this to our kids. There are better options out there. Sadly, I think a generation fed on garbage might find “wholesome” stories boring. What a shame. Children killing children. This is our new classic? How enlightening.
I too am shocked by the number of people praising this series. This is certainly a reflection of the downward spiral of our society. Yes, these books will hold kids’ interests–so will viewing the aftermath of a gruesome car wreck or pornography. I cannot believe middle schools have this series on their reading lists with teachers advocating this. What’s next? Reading about serial killers’ lives and details? That too would hold many middle school readers’ interests. For the record, I am a middle/high school counselor in Georgia.
I praise the series, but I think that it should not be read in middle school. I think it is more appropriate for high school students.
First of all, thank you Sandra, I could not have said better myself why I do not think the gruesome themes in the books are appropriate for children. While I believe it is extremely important to teach my children history, I do not find it necessary to explain every mode of torture used in the holocaust or of the japanese prison camps, which is what these books do. They will learn those things eventually, and it is important that they do, but there is a proper time. As for the prostitution it is a vital part of the plot and is handled very tastefully as are the other (very few) sexual references in the books. However, along with the physical violence, the use of prostitution and psychological torture are among the many reasons I think it is inappropriate for school age children. Don’t get me wrong, I like the series and I think it raises important questions about our society and our way of life that should be asked. There is an appropriate time to learn these things and ask those questions, and it isn’t middle school. I don’t think an 11 year old is being denied a rounded education simply because he is not being intimately oriented to the modes and depths of evil that one human can do to another.
Although one would not deny the importance of teaching children this age historical facts, one does NOT have to rub in their faces the gruesome details of how warriors and soldiers kill one another. Our society would not send children into war. Why should we expose them to the details of torture and death by encouraging them to read such material? Exposing our children to gruesome mental images does NOT offer them “rich learning experiences”. It merely pollutes their minds with strong, graphic and disturbing images that they should NOT have to be processing at this age – that they cannot healthily process at this age.
Additionally, as I have not read the books, I am relying solely on previous posters’ comments that the book(s) discuss prostitution. I bring this up because you mention that there is “no sex” in the books. Well, prostitution, in the generally understood sense of the term – is all about sex.
At 10 years old, my daughter and I have just begun having discussions about the “birds and the bees”. I want her to know about the beauty, responsibility and moral aspects of our sexuality. All of this in a general and age-appropriate manner in keeping with our beliefs. But, if she or other children were to read this book and had not previously had someone explain to them anything about sex, then their first introduction would be PROSTITUTION! Our society is already bombarded with sexual images, language, etc. Do we really need to be encouraging our kids – again, many whom don’t really know what “sex” is yet exactly – to read something that introduces the concept of prostitution? To those who will counter with the argument that this thinking merely “shelters” kids….You’re right! Because our duty as adults is to remember these kids are kids! Not little adults. They need to be “sheltered” from many adult concepts. They don’t need to learn about the ugly side of sex before they learn how natural and beautiful it should be. They don’t need to learn of the myriad ways humans can do away with one another. Unfortunately, there will be a time when these individuals will be exposed to these concepts – but it should not be when they are so young and impressionable. As for the comparison to the Percy Jackson series, the latter is about mythical creatures fighting one another – not children torturing and killing other children. Oh, and there’s no mention of sex in those either – prostitution or otherwise.
Let’s be really careful what we’re putting on our kids’ plates. If there’s any question about any of it, move on to something else. There’s plenty of good fiction and non-fiction out there for them from which to learn and grow. And, with care, they will … hopefully into caring adults who value life and each other.
Wow, exactly what I said above (sorry, I didn’t read your post before I went on my tirade). Well put, I agree. Keep them kids as long as we can (and no eyeshadow at 12 either, dammit!)
Funny how you are all about keeping kids clean, yet right on a website about clean advice about a book you go on swearing. I am a 13 year old and I personally love the series, or at least how far I have read. I have found that with a MATURE mind, kids can really enjoy these books. As for the sexual references, maybe you should give your kids a little time before letting them read this book. It is centered towards 7th to 8th grade students, not 10 year olds! I would further advise you to please keep your profanity to yourself, as it is very offensive to me and many other concerned people out there who want to know if it’s good for children. Is it okay for children? In my opinion, no. But is it okay for middle school and up with discretion? Totally. I have been and am being raised in a highly Christian household with good morals and no tolerance to inappropriate content. We were informed of issues in the world at an early age and are able to act on it to help teach others that bad things are in fact bad. I am highly in favor of the fact that it is appropriate for youth, but with discretion of whether the individual is mature enough for it or not.
Amen to letting them be children. Why do we insist that they have to read gruesome stuff just to be exposed to genre. They will be adults soon enough and get to spend their whole lives dealing with adult issues–I agree makeup, low cut clothing, etc are not necessary. We choose to close our eyes and pretend that children can handle all of this but here’s a piece of advice. Children do not process things the same way we as adults do. Their minds, not to mention, their souls are not fully developed yet.
I have read it. My husband read it. But our daughter won’t. Nearly every tween, young teen I have spoken to about the book immediately light up as they tell me how violent the books are. It’s amazing to me though, not really, how peer pressure encouraged my daughter to request permission to read this series. She didn’t even have any idea about the plot. All she knew is that everyone’s reading it. When I told her the basic story line, her initial shock was replaced with-“Well, I am the only one who’s not reading it.”
I recently finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy and I was horrified to discover that this book is encouraged reading for middle school children. I have read through the comments here and I am baffled by all the people defending the idea that middle schoolers can read the hunger games based on the fact that they can “understand it.” With the hunger games the issue isn’t understanding it, it’s not a high reading level, the issue is HANDLING the themes in the hunger games. The above poster is correct, this series should fall in the horror genre. Is the violence and twisted psychological torture intrinsic to the plot necessary for the point the books are meant to make? Yes. Is it a good and important point? Yes. Would I let my child read it before the age of 15 or 16? NEVER. These books are disturbing on every imaginable level and are the sort of horrors we should still be trying to protect our middle schoolers from, not intentionally exposing them to.
Mrs. Orman says
@ Catherine – Do you deny your children the teaching of the Holocaust, any war in history (including Revolutionary, Civil, WWI & WWII), the Spanish conquistadors, and/or ancient Greek and Roman battles in their history classes, as well? Because if you don’t, then you are being a hypocrite.
Literature like The Hunger Games is offered as a high-interest companion to real history. Students need a mixture of both non-fiction (like their history books) and fiction in school. They are taught the same lessons in history (they study gladiator battles, genocide, slavery, battle strategies in middle school history), but it makes sense to them when they read it from a teenage perspective. And Suzanne Collins does a brilliant job writing. In addition, she doesn’t use profanity and there is no sex.
I am a teacher and I am thankful she wrote this series; my students are more engaged and excited about reading than ever before. They take more interest in history class when they see the connections. Education is about opening their minds, not sheltering our kids from rich learning experiences.
I let my son read it when he was 11. He loved it even more than the Percy Jackson series, which actually has much more violence than The Hunger Games.
Ma’am, I do appreciate your comments. As a teacher, I’m sure you are aware of what middle schoolers’ minds can handle, and what material will “tickle” their imaginations and inspire them to read (a la Harry Potter, which was also villified as being “satanic” in the beginning). But after reading these posts (in an attempt to research, for myself, whether my 12 year old should be allowed to read the books following her request to do so), I am decided: no way. When my husband and I are watching the Today Show in the morning, and Anne Curry comes on to tell us about the father who just locked himself in his house with his two little boys in order to incinerate them all, we turn the t.v. off, or find a music channel to listen to. Or when Al Roker suddenly switches to the newscaster describing how the 9-year-old was kidnapped, raped and murdered, and the family is still looking for her body, we likewise turn the channel. Yes, these are the realities of the world we live in, and I KNOW these kids are already hearing about them. We live in a wonderful, magical world, but there are evil, dark sides to it that we hear increasingly about thanks to an ever-present media – doesn’t make the world any less wonderful. Does the fact that there is evil in the world mean I want my innocent, happy and sweet girl hearing about it all at this point? No. Does it mean that there will come a time when she will hear about it? Yes. But before that time comes, I want to wrap her in the love and security of that magical, happy world where things end up ok. Because that’s what I received as a sheltered, loved, “child of the 70’s.” When the reality of the horrors that exist in this world finally hit me in my late teens/early 20’s, I was so wrapped in love and shelter that it did not rip the skin off of my psyche. I was able to deal with it, because I knew that things would be ok in the long run, and I still believe that, thanks to this early sheltering and protection of my parents. So again, with all due respect to you and your profession and your opinion, I vehemently disagree with allowing a 12 year old, or perhaps even a 14-year-old, read this series. 16? Maybe. By that time, they’ve already snuck a peak at a friend’s house, etc, and already have a pretty well-cemented idea of what to expect from the world. We, as parents, have to keep from allowing the horror that exists in the world to desensitize us to the point where we think it’s ok to go ahead and lamblast our precious children with it before they’ve had a chance to grow that protective skin.
Is graphic detail of the variety and types of tortures endured by prisoners at Auschwitz or the intricate details of HOW soldiers were actually killed or died, an integral part to teaching students in this age group about these historical events or is it sufficient to explain that the people involved suffered greatly and many lives were lost? Where do we draw the line in exposing young minds to the intricate details of the horrors of the world before it is necessary to do so? I think this is what the previous poster was trying to say, and I agree. Personally I find it abhorrent that young students are encouraged in public schools to engage in literature designed to desensitize them to horrific acts of violence, while at the same time risk being disciplined for saying a prayer or wishing someone a “Merrry Christmas” in the same school. We teach our children to toughen up and be hardened to the realities of the world but gasp in shock and horror at the idea of looking to God for hope in the midst of all this depravity and misery. Something is seriously wrong with the moral fibre of our society when this is the norm rather than the exception.
Thanks for the info. I came to this site after my 9 year old 4th grader brought home a permission slip to be signed that she could read the book with her reading group at school. If I choose for her to not read the book, she will be moved out of her advanced reading group to another group where they are reading something different.
I will read the book for myself but currently feeling that I will not let her read it yet.
@Lynn gale doesnt die he goes to Spolier: he goes to district 2 !!!!
Thanks so much !!!! Haha that irritated me
I read the first book and find it truly repulsive and disgusting. Children are selected in a lottery to hunt and kill each other with swords, axes, knives, spears, arrows, mace, bare hands, whatever it takes. The deaths are gruesome, bloody and depraved. When I learned that the series was offered to kids in my daughter’s school I flipped through the rest of the series. It becomes ever more sick and twisted, more horrible deaths of the young and innocent of my daughter’s age. Some of the killings are “off-camera” but most are in your face, described in visceral detail.
Perhaps the movies will be cleaned up, playing down the violence or raising the age of the characters. If they made the book honestly it would be rated NC-17 for the bloody slaughter of children by children. I cannot see it scoring less than an R rating without losing the original story substantially.
I would not let a young teen read these books. They are horror stories. Nothing wrong with that genre for those old enough to deal with it, but this series should be for adults not children.
Hi, I’m replying to Pamela. Pamela, the series does not glorify the torture of children – the author is the daughter of a Vietnam vet who taught his children about the horrible reality of war. The author is very clear that she seeks to reduce violence in society through this series. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/magazine/mag-10collins-t.html?pagewanted=all) That said, this is one of the most radical and psychologically penetrating series I’ve ever read. If someone next asks me to recommend a defense of anarchy, I will forego “Animal Farm” and recommend this instead. I completely agree that the series is not appropriate for <13 years of age, and I agree that physical violence is only part of the problem. The soul-crushing oppression caused by several groups vying for power is the truly eye-opening revelation of this series. The message of the series is that authority figures cannot be trusted; if they get a chance, they will use you and probably hurt you. It's nothing personal, it's simply the nature of authority. Regardless of one's feelings toward government in general, I'm not personally prepared to have children or pre-adolescents exposed to that message just yet. I do love the series though, and look forward to enjoying them with my children when they're well into their teens – truly "young adults."
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a series of books that are being given almost the same acclamation as the Harry Potter series. The first movie is due out in March.
Due to the popularity of these books, I would like to issue a warning to parents. Please read the entire series before allowing your children to read them. I feel the books could be psychologically damaging to young, impressionable minds. Please read them in a critical manner.
The following are my own thoughts on the series .
I finished reading the series last night as I had received them as a gift.
The books were riveting, charged, highly emotional, but having said that… I have real reservations about the series.
The series is about the extremely sadistic torture of young teenagers. The further along in the series…the more twisted and perverse the story line becomes. But, because of the way it is all presented, you tend to forget that these are children and not adults who must survive these hellish games. The sarcastic glory with which the Hunger Games are treated by those in power adds an utterly depraved dimension to the plot. For those who are unfortunately familiar with the Saw movies, the books are more insidious.
Besides the almost continuous and multiple ways the author finds to torture and kill off her characters, the main character is handed suicide pills, watches a close friend beheaded, sees her sister go up in flames and learns that the former victors were sold as prostitutes. This is a series for young teens? What happened to half-way wholesome books for our young ones?
You have to wonder about a mind that conjures up these images and this type of theme.
By the end of the series the main characters are left so completely broken in body, mind and spirit that there is no victorious rejoicing. While the feat of eliminating the Hunger Games forever is accomplished, there is very little else to celebrate. This is entertainment for children?
Books which are completely absorbing as are these, leave a deep-seated impression that cannot be easily shaken. There is a subtle subconscious psychological impact. In a way, similar to movies and television, the story is such that it almost desensitizes a person to the subject of the torture of children and I feel that is a very dangerous thing. Only someone who has read the entire series will understand what I am saying, here. I would be very interested in knowing what a panel of psychologists would say about the effects of this series on young minds.
Whether intentionally or not, to my mind, the series glorifies the torture of children. The movies will do so at a deeper level.
I almost have to wonder why the books were written. Supposedly, it was to show the effects of war on children according to one review. But, in reality, these books aren’t about a realistic war, which is bad enough. The series seems to be the product of a twisted mind who has thought up every way imaginable to torture innocent children and present the torture as a story to the world.
These books are not the way we want our children’s imaginations to be stirred. Those who will rush to see the movies, which has a big-star line-up, think about what you will be endorsing. Make no mistake, the entire series is about the unmitigated torture of children in as many imaginable forms possible. If we consider these future Hunger Games movies entertainment, then what is that saying about us?
Because of the level of violence, sadism and the torture and sacrifice of children, I don’t plan on seeing the movie. And, let’s hope the crazies out there don’t see them, either.
Mrs. Orman says
@ Pamela – You are actually arguing that a book about war should be all rainbows and sunshine. That is not reality. Saying war is anything less than hell is sugar-coating it.
Collins offers an insight to the true reality of violence. It leaves you broken. It changes you forever. People die. If she ended it any other way the message would be that violence is a great way to solve our problems! What do you think our young soldiers see when they go to war?
You completely contradict yourself when you say “Whether intentionally or not, to my mind, the series glorifies the torture of children.” How? By leaving you with a sick feeling? That, my friend, is NOT glorifying it. That is exemplifying the theme that violence is BAD. If you felt GOOD after reading it, then it would be glorifying it. Do you see how that works? Because I get the sense that you really don’t understand what the term “glory” actually means. When we reward violence with “glory” we teach our children that violence is good. There is not a single character who is rewarded with “glory” at the end of the series. And even when Katniss & Peeta are “rewarded” with their victory tour, it makes them sick. That is teaching the reader that violence is BAD.
Do you consider our service men and women “crazies” too? You must, since we are a nation who has forced our youth to go fight in real-life death games (aka Vietnam, WWI, WWII). And don’t think for one minute that the horrors they were forced to witness were less violent than what is in this series. Yet, they were just innocent kids forced by the government to kill one another. Does that sound familiar? I think educating our youth on what to expect when a nation turns to violence to solve its problems is better than sheltering them; at least they’d know what to expect when we throw them to the wolves.
Perhaps it’s because I’m young and was brought up to think a little bit outside of the box, but as a teacher and as an avid reader I have to question your criticism of books in general. Why do we pick apart literature? It’s literature. It’s not going to be all happiness and all conformity all the time.
“These books are not the way we want our children’s imaginations to be stirred. ”
The point of reading is to have our children’s imaginations stirred and their brains stimulated and their emotions engaged. If you protect them from all of the unhappy, sadistic literature out there, what do you aim to accomplish other than to smother an interest in the practice altogether? Let a child, teenager, adult read many kinds of things! Protecting them from this type of stuff isn’t doing anyone any favours. A good reader, no matter the age, is also a critical reader. A young teenager can read The Hunger Games and know what’s real and what’s not, what is good writing and what is not, they can separate reality from imagination.
I’m sorry, but sheltering kids from certain types of literature… it’s something that bothers me (unless we’re talking the obvious smut). When you’ve got a kid interested and engaged in a book, do you take that away and hand them something cheerful and all about morals? I can’t even think of a good book that I’ve read that would fit into this category :/
My child is a highly gifted 8-year old who read the Lord of the Rings trilogy when he was 7 (only because I wouldn’t let him read it earlier). When I hear the content of these books, I am so glad that I stopped to learn about them because I would never want him to read that.
We need to consider the emotional maturity of our children when we decide what to let them read. Information that goes into their heads can and does change who they are. Such information cannot be unlearned. My 8-year old doesn’t need to read about torture, nor does he need to think about children sold as prostitutes or even what a prostitute is.
My wife and I have become masters of media in our house, and we are going to raise well-adjusted children, our depraved media driven culture be-damned.
Ironically, you seem to be very worked up about this trilogy of exceptional books, but dont seem bothered at all by the fact that Lord of the Rings carries almost exactly the same “parent stirring” package.
Unless you have never read Lotr, you should know that it contains violence, horror, nudity, cursing, torture and, in addition, a giant demon from Hell.
If you allowed your child to read those books and not worry for his “emotional maturity” than why worry about these books?
Being the “master of media” in your household I’d expect you to understand.
Interesting that you have no problem letting your 8 year old read the LOTR series. I was an adult when I read it and parts of it still terrify me. Wonderfully written yes, but full of gruesome torture, deaths, and hopelessness. I completely agree that THG is not appropriate for a child of that age, but find it strange you would argue against it with a series filled with just as much violence and horror.
Pamela, you could not be more on target. I’m a social worker who has spent a career working with abused kids. I’m also the mom of a 12 year old girl who unknowingly let her read the series. Then I read them and wondered how in the world they were appropriate for this age group. My daughter’s argument is that she is mature and that even Harry Potter books and films had violence and death. While that is true, the Hunger Games is about children being exploited for the sake of adults in a very sick society. By the third book there wasn’t really a sense of true hope that a kinder society would be formed; and I didn’t feel a sense of victory for the main characters. The wars were over but they would always be scarred. I will not deny that the books are well written and intriguing and even I got sucked in, worrying about what would happen to these kids. But that being said, we cannot forget that really the theme is the abuse and exploitation of kids. That is very real in this society. And while some of the fantasy costumes and themes (such as the government created mutations, the arena with the clock, etc) are out there and inconceivable, the theme of war is not. What do any of us really imagine what would happen to society after nuclear war, anyway? We could easily revert to a sick society very quickly.
My daughter is going to be very upset with me, and I may get some flack from other moms who disagree, but I’m not letting my daughter see the movie. I have already told her that there are some sick people out in this world who hurt and violate children. I dont want her to ever experience it in her lifetime, hopefully, and I don’t want it reinforced in a movie. Thanks for your comments.
I agree 100 percent and appreciate your concerns and parenting. I would not recommend this book for children no more so than I would recommend the Terminator or Saw. Being an advanced reader, as both my 10 year old and 9 year old are, is not a reason to allow this kind of material in my children’s hands before they can truly comprehend what they are reading. Thank you for yor insightful answer.
I could not agree with you more. Having read the plethora of reviews by educators, parents and children espousing the literary worth of these books, I remain dumbfounded. Putting aside the gratuitous and callous treatment of the death of children, graphically described in the most gruesome manner, the basic story-line of children hunting down and killing other children in the most horrific and sadistic manner to order to inflict the greatest suffering is numbing. In justification of the books, the reviewers note 1) that (finally) there is a female herorine young girls can emulate; 2) that the stories demonstrate humanity triumphs under the most de-humanizing circumstances; or 3) that the story-line highlights the base and degenerate entertainment preferences of the masses, to wit:that the suffering and torture of children is entertaining. So, exactly why have these books captured the attention of children and adults alike, but for the fact they are “entertaining?” That in of itself is horrifying to me as a mother, as a former educator and as an attorney.
My daughters are 10, they and their friends are wild for Hunger Games. When they first described the story to me, it sounded like a children’s version of “Battle Royale” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266308/) which is incredibly violent, and definitely not made for children. Yesterday my girls showed me a youtube clip of a fan-made scene with excellent production values, it looks like something professional (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_jw3z68TW0)
This clip, which my daughters thought was funny, alarmed me a great deal. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not used to my sweet girls laughing while viewing another child being speared in the belly, or if it’s just my own taste in media telling me this is wrong wrong wrong, but I’m not sure what to do. So far, I’ve told my daughters that I think they’re too young to view this movie. I also said that before I confirm my NO WAY JOSE declaration, I’d do some research into it and get back to them with a more solid decision in a weeks time. I have never seen my girls melt down so fast over being told ‘no’ before… they have such strong feelings for this story. I feel stuck, I’m not sure what exactly is the problem I’m experiencing… I’m don’t like to see children used to sensationalize the impact of violence for entertainment purposes. I also have concerns about my kids watching such violent material, I don’t know if it’s bad for them. They seem to understand it’s not real, the kids are acting and they don’t seem afraid at all. I remember when I was young, I loved violent subject matter, it’s something I’ve grown out of as an adult, and I don’t think any of the movies I saw when I was young hurt me, or changed me, or made me violent in any way. What difference would it make if they see it upon release in a few months, vs on dvd in a couple years? I’m seeking information on the effects violent films on children, and tips for explaining to my kids, potentially, why I won’t let them watch these movies. All perspectives are important, especially from other parents who’ve had to talk to their kids about this subject matter. I’m not the sort to tell my girls they can’t do something just ‘because I said so’, I believe they learn nothing from this approach and instead it just makes them rebellious.
I don’t know how anyone sane could watch that video, I stopped after about 45 seconds. Starting off with a teenage girl holding a hunting knife her hand dripping in blood, then chasing after a young boy in the forest. I couldn’t watch anymore, I know how the scene ends as I read the book and I didn’t want to see it. I know the author’s intention is to create a sense of antiviolence through these books but the first 45 seconds of that film clip were definitely glorifying violence, the music alone is the tip off. I found the Hunger Games incredibily difficult to read at the age of 45. I just don’t see how anyone younger then 20 could really read it and not be negatively impacted by it. I find myself constantly thinking about the plot and characters but I was emotionally hurt by it. I am not letting my 10 year read the books or watch the movie. I also intend to talk to my sixteen year and ask him to avoid this movie, I doubt he has read the book.
The clip that you posted is from a Mainstay Productions. It is a fan based short film. It has nothing to do with the movie Hunger Games. It was originally produced to give the actress a chance to audition for the movie Hunger Games. She didn’t get selected for the movie. Look up Mainstay Productions and you will get the history.
I am a language arts teacher for students in grades 4-8. I have not read these books but a coworker has read them and loves them. She has pre-teen children and has encouraged many of my students in the 6th-8th grade range to read them. Maybe to the point where you feel ‘left out’ if you have not read them. She has given me a good briefing of the plots, characters, etc. For me, I’d rather see students in 7th-8th grade read something like “The Book Thief” instead. Historical, suspenseful, and yet very emotionally gripping. I have read the “Ugly” books and I thought they were a rip-off of Lois Lowry’s “The Giver”. Why promote someone marginal writing when there are so many excellent, award-winning books out there that kids today will never get around to reading? It makes me very sad. I am thankful to hear Lynn’s comments — it’s more helpful as a teacher (and parent of a daughter) to hear what an actual YOUNG PERSON (ie target audience) has to think about it. Thanks for sharing, Lynn!!
It’s interesting that you mention “The Book Thief” because it is the next book on my reading list. 🙂 Any chance that you would like to do a guest post, Tanya, about books to read in lieu of Hunger Games?
This xmas I bought my girls the entire Death Gate Cycle, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. These are young adult fantasy books, there are 8 books, I’ve read 4 of them and think it’s a great read for kids.
Lynn, why are you on my website? I appreciate you helping, but I don’t think you’re a mom yet.
I’m actually the owner of Helping Moms and am happy to have the response of younger readers as well. 🙂
@Marie So, Lynn’s incredibly insightful post is in question because she’s not a mom? The implication, from your question, is that she shouldn’t be on this website. Wow. I think I’ll take advice from Lynn any day over a childish mom who can’t get past the fact that someone outside the target audience has something to contribute. It’s clear that Lynn is “Helping Moms Connect” more than any other post on this page. I’m not sure what Marie is contributing, other than thoughtlessly dismissing an insightful post. Does that help moms connect?
Lisa K says
Well said. The world from a childs eyes is amazing.
The only reason why I’m upset Lynn posted because she ruined the ending! D:
It really depends on the maturity of the reader. The first Hunger Games book is more gruesome than the other two, Catching Fire had the most romance, and the third one had a lot more emotion. I love this series, and I’m fourteen. I know people who are FIFTY and are in love with the series. However, if you show a younger child the first book, he/she are sure to fall in love with the trilogy and want to get Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and this may not be good for the child. Suzanne Collins said in an interview that this was targeted toward readers 13 and up, but I think 12-year olds could also understand this book well. Warning- this series doesn’t have a great ending. SPOILER: All that matters to Katniss at the beginning of the trilogy is her sister, Prim, and maybe Gale, her best friend, but both die by the end of the trilogy. I don’t think it’s possible to read these books without crying, and they will stay in my life forever.
I think you hit the nail on the head as to why the Hunger Games is so successful. It doesn’t matter the age of the reader, anyone can enjoy it. Furthermore, the reader can be male or female. It will be interesting to see who the movie is really targeted to.
Hi, I think you made a mistake, Gale does not die. He and Katniss just sort of stop talking.
Carol Kinman says
My daughter read The Hunger Games when she was in the 6th grade, age 11. (she was almost 12) It was one of the books on her English teacher’s recommended reading list. When I first heard what the book was about, I thought NO WAY are you reading that. But, I read them with her and was surprised at how well-written they were and how well Suzanne Collins handled the subject matter. I think that the maturity level of the child and parent involvement in the reading process dictate what a child should read. 🙂 I am a fan of Hunger Games too!
As I have read reviews about Hunger Games,it is basically written for kids ages 13 and up, BUT the age range reflects the readability and not necessarily content appropriateness. 🙂