If you are a Hunger Games fan (or a Hunger Games detractor), this article might be of interest. Apparently, a Japanese book and movie with an identical premise existed years before the Hunger Games. Hmmm. . .
Because of the movie coming out tonight, I have been hearing a lot about the Hunger Games. A fellow faculty member was in the library a few days ago, wondering out loud about whether she should allow her own daughter to read the books (the kid is asking to read them). There was a small group of 5th grade girls in the library working on something, so we asked them if they had read it, and what they thought about it, and whether it scared them or kept them up at night. I had to leave mid-conversation because another student needed me, but what I did hear was interesting: out of 4 girls, 3 had read at least the first book (1 had read all three, more than once). The one who had read all 3 was completely unfazed by the violence. One of the others was a bit iffy about it–at first said it was no problem, but then admitted to being a bit freaked out by it. I had to leave before the third girl weighed in.
I’m kind of stunned by how many 5th graders have read the book. I knew it was filtering down and younger kids were reading it, but I am still shocked. But, in the interest of full disclosure, my own 5th grader did read it this past weekend. She is sensitive to violence and had no interest in reading it for a long time because of that, but as more and more of her close friends have read it (and books are a big topic of conversation in her friend group, apparently), she became curious. She had read and LOVED Legend by Marie Lu, which doesn’t have as much violence but has a similar dystopian theme (but without the kid-on-kid violence that is, to me, the most disturbing aspect of Hunger Games). So I gave her the go-ahead, with the usual rule that if she hits something she is uncomfortable with, she can close the book and come talk to me about it, and she doesn’t have to read another word. In the end, she liked Hunger Games, but wasn’t begging to read the second one right away. (She just followed it up with Wonder by RJ Palacio, and had a lot more enthusiasm for that feel-good story.)
The question now for many parents, I’m guessing, is whether to let kids see the movie. I don’t have a final answer yet for myself. On-screen violence is, in my opinion, a whole different world from reading about violence in print. I’m not sure I even want to see the movie myself for that reason! Common Sense Media’s review of the movie might be helpful to folks trying to decide what to do here. My gut right now is telling me to hold off, wait for when my own kid is older and watch it together on DVD then.
If you have thoughts on this, please comment! I know this could become quite a lively debate!