Should Kids be Allowed to Read “The Hunger Games?”

Is “The Hunger Games” too Violent?

Parents, teachers, and child care providers always complain about the desensitization of violence in the media. Yet, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a hugely successful book series that has more than 20 teens slaughtered by other teens in a totalitarian government reality television game in gory detail. Many parents and young adults cannot overlook the bloody and brutal descriptions in the book and visuals in the movie.

The Hunger Games doesn’t intend to glorify killing. The story explores thought-provoking themes about reality television, totalitarian government, and screen violence as entertainment. The underlying issues of corrupt government power, cruelty, greed, true friendship, importance of family ties, and loyalty are also concepts shared in the novel.

In the future nation of Panem the Capitol is surrounded by 12 districts in the ruins of the area once known as North America. Every year each district must send two teens to compete in The Hunger Games, a televised kill or be killed game. The main character, Katniss, is a 16-year-old girl enters the televised games.

The teen contestants are given weapons, including spears, arrows, and swords, and they must fight other teens until they are dead to prevent being killed by the other contestants. The most brutal scene is when The Hunger Games begin, in which several teens are slaughtered by their fellow contestants. The book describes, and movie shows, teens having their necks broken, their skulls cracked, and their bodies ravaged by carnivorous and poisonous creatures.

I recommend nannies and parents think long and hard about whether the child is mature enough to handle the violence in the story before allowing them to read the book or see the film. Adults, tweens, and teens should read the book first to see if they can stomach the violence. If the text disturbs them, they shouldn’t watch the film.

The movie is less graphic than the novel’s descriptions, yet I know dozens of adults that walked out of the theatre because they were not prepared and were terrible disturbed by the concept of teens killing other teens.

Some questions that Scholatsic recommends asking teens about the book include:

1. How does the fact that the tributes are always on camera affect their behavior from the time they are chosen? Does it make it easier or harder for them to accept their fate? How are the “career tributes” different from the others?

2. Why are the “tributes” given stylists and dressed so elaborately for the opening ceremony? Does this ceremony remind you of events in our world, either past or present? Compare those ceremonies in real life to the one in the story.

3. When Peeta declares his love for Katniss in the interview, does he really mean it or did Haymitch create the “star-crossed lovers” story? What does Haymitch mean when he says, “It’s all a big show. It’s all how you’re perceived”? Why do they need to impress sponsors and what are those sponsors looking for when they are watching the Games?

4. Before the Games start, Peeta tells Katniss, “. . . I want to die as myself . . . I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.” What does this tell you about Peeta? What does he fear more than death? Is he able to stay true to himself during the Games?

5. When does Katniss first realize that Peeta does care for her and is trying to keep her alive? When does she realize her own feelings for him? Did Haymitch think all along that he could keep them both alive by stressing the love story? Are they actually in love?

6. In 1848, Karl Marx wrote in The Communist Manifesto, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Discuss this statement as it applies to the society and government of Panem. Do you believe there is any chance to eradicate class struggles in the future?

To purchase your own copy of the book or video click the links below. Don’t forget to stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

The Hunger Games

 

 

 

The Hunger Games

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