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Suitable reading?So, having resisted the temptation to jump on the bandwagon and read...

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Suitable reading?

So, having resisted the temptation to jump on the bandwagon and read this book, I finally dived in and in a frenzied two to three hour burst of energy, devoured it complete. I must admit to having enjoyed it and it was certainly a gripping read, but what concerns me, especially as a father of four young kids, is the central theme of violence and the idea of children killing other children. I haven't read the other books in the trilogy, but I must admit to finding myself very disturbed by the images and ideas of children killing other children and making "entertainment" out of this. I don't want to sound like a conversative old fuddy-duddy, but anybody else out there share my concern?

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amy-lepore's profile pic

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Such is the unrest of a dystopian novel.  :)  It isn't perfect, but the idea is to sacrifice the few for the survival of the many--the people in the outer realms who are more readily willing to rebel against the elite population of Area 1 and the government housed there.

Yes, it is disturbing. However, there is saving grace in the fact that even though the children are put in the arena for the sole purpose of entertaining the masses who watch the battles on TV, many of them develop alliances and even friendships throughout.  The fact that Peeta and Katniss defeat the "game" by threatening to both eat the poisonous berries therefore resulting in no champion is a bead of hope for humanity.  The farther you read in the series, the more violent the plots and manipulations by the government, and the more redolent the rebellion of the masses become.  The final book is a perfect cap to the series, and although there has been much sacrifice, there is the peaceful and hopeful future that is more utopian than dystopian.

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I agree with Amy-lepore. If the violence of children against children was all there was to this novel, it would be most unsuitable for children to read. However, this is part of a larger, more meaningful message. The violence is not being glorified. It merely highlights things with a greater good.

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You didn't indicate what age group we're talking about here for your students, but I'll assume middle or high school since that's the age group of the main character.  We have to remember that kids are and have been exposed to way more violence and sex at that age than we were.  This is not just in popular culture, but also in reality, with a very violent world and a bombardment of images by the time they reach the teenage years.  While this doesn't mean any and all references to violence between children is automatically acceptable, and you're certainly right to ask the question, I think we can overestimate the harm that can be done to the teenage psyche by the literary.  My rule of thumb falls along the lines of whether or not the violence is gratuitous, and in this story, I don't think that is true at all.

childele's profile pic

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I love the Hunger Games trilogy. I do have to admit that the violence in the book is a bone of contention in deciding on an appropriate age to allow my students and my own children read the novels.  I do not believe, however, that the central theme is children killing children.  On the contrary, I see the message being one more of love, unity and standing up for what is right.  Please read the remaining books.  The message becomes even more clear as you read on.

sarahc418's profile pic

Posted (Answer #6)

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I am going to agree with brettd about the amount of violence children see in other VISUAL forms. I think this is a good depiction of what our world is going to come to - a city or country that glorifies death and war. . . if it hasn't already come to that. Obviously it is an extreme exaggeration of country's obsession with violence, but the detailed description of what the capitol puts the contestants through sincerely affects the main character who the reader identifies with. However, it is enjoyed by the capitol making its point.

I also agree with childele that the third book will really bring it all together, and the message is a really powerful one at the end.

lmetcalf's profile pic

Posted (Answer #7)

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I was prepared for the subject matter of the novels and was thinking I would not like them because of the violence and the concept of "The Games," but like others have stated, I was completely drawn in and found that the violence really just serves as juxtaposition for the positive messages of the novels: love, loyalty, friendship, rebellion, ingenuity, personal strength etc.  I don't know when I would want my son to read the series, but I frankly found the pervasive evil of most of the Harry Potter series to be more intense and more depressing.

ashwren's profile pic

Posted (Answer #8)

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Yes, the idea of children killing children is disturbing, however it is fiction. I disagree that it was the central theme. But, I have read the whole series and found the real story to be about survival. It also focused on standing up for what is right. Yes, the "Games" are the backdrop for the novels, but there is so much more to be learned from the story. If you remember Katniss constantly struggled with killing others in the arena. There is a lesson of what is right and what is wrong. Frankly, we see a lot worse everyday in real life. Half the shows on television are driven by some sort of violent crime.

You cannot shelter your children from everything; however, you can teach them the difference between good and bad.

hopedeludes's profile pic

Posted (Answer #9)

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In my opinion, this book is an excellent read because the story line is unique, there is great character development and a wide range of vocabulary is applied. I do not believe that this novel will negatively influence your children, as violence is generally not depicted in a positive light in this book.

litteacher8's profile pic

Posted (Answer #10)

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My students LOVE this book, but they are disturbed. Of course, they are also disturbed by many of the books we read. The theme fits into the curriculum well! I think the key is to assign carefully. I have never taught this book as a whole-class read, but I have used it as a literature circle. I try to make sure the kids who choose it knowing what they're getting into. The advantage is that if they read the first one, they are usually hooked and will eagerly continue the series.
akuhano's profile pic

Posted (Answer #11)

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I think that the book is fine.  Many other stories have the concept of others killing others, and I don't think that this book will make a difference.  It is a well written book with an extremely well written plot.

ripe-tide's profile pic

Posted (Answer #12)

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I LOVE HUNGER GAMES

gabrielle720's profile pic

Posted (Answer #13)

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Suitable reading?

So, having resisted the temptation to jump on the bandwagon and read this book, I finally dived in and in a frenzied two to three hour burst of energy, devoured it complete. I must admit to having enjoyed it and it was certainly a gripping read, but what concerns me, especially as a father of four young kids, is the central theme of violence and the idea of children killing other children. I haven't read the other books in the trilogy, but I must admit to finding myself very disturbed by the images and ideas of children killing other children and making "entertainment" out of this. I don't want to sound like a conversative old fuddy-duddy, but anybody else out there share my concern?

Alright! Let me say that I agree with you 100%!

 However, Suzanne Gollins series is "young adult" category - therefore should carry its appropriate rating. I was one who saw the movie "The Hunger Games" before I read the book. The book focused far more inside Katniss' head [making it more intense and innappropriate for younger readers because you experience her desperation and perspective better than any gore on the screen]. The arena is kill or be killed - and the Hunger Games, is like the ancient version of the Olympics. 

 The Games fictionally is nothing new, is like history repeating itself. To maintain power and dominance, "entertainment" from slaves is deemed just, within well-to-do societies. The setting of Panem is post-apocalyptic, and the first book of the series is the beginning of a plethora of "concerning issues" you should be worried about. 

 I'm not a teen anymore, and I had the hardest of times, completing my reading of the Mockingjay, the third and final book. It is ok to guard your younger children against them - but they may very well see the movies anyway - and better if they are interested - get the fresher experience from the books. They are actually educational. Unjustness on the grand scale of things, how the world and people are not perfect. But light is always there - the theme that rings through in the whole series.

sarahc418's profile pic

Posted (Answer #14)

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I love reading it with my summer school students. They can really get into the novel while identifying these "nothing new" themes as gabrielle720 says. But for them, it is new to read a book that they love and be able to identify theme and character traits. 

It is graphic and violent and I would be wary to share it with sensitive middle school students, but high schoolers are already so desensitized to violence that at least this piece of literature has a purpose for the graphic violence. I love when they find success in it. It transforms them.

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