With holiday breaks from school coming up, December’s posts will be for you younger readers, or parents looking for ways to entertain kids for the next couple of weeks. This holiday season, why not read a book together as a family? Throughout the month, we’ll be featuring books that we think everyone in the family will enjoy. This week, we bring you the best in young adult fiction.
You or your family may have already read or heard about today’s selection, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This trilogy, set in a futuristic dystopian North America, introduces readers to heroine Katniss Everdeen, who must battle to the death with other children representing the twelve “districts” of her home, for the entertainment of the privileged elite of The Capitol. The writing is quick and witty, keeping even the most picky of young readers entertained. The themes are heavy enough to engage adult readers, as well, and provide parents the opportunity to discuss real-world issues with their children, set against a fictional landscape. The story can get fairly violent–they are fighting to the death, after all–so I would think hard about how much you want to delve into the topics of suffering and death before giving it to kids over the age of 12 or 13.
– What are Katniss’ priorities as a citizen in District 12? Do you think her priorities change when she volunteers as a tribute and has to participate in the Games?
– Each District in Panem is responsible for a good or service necessary for their society to operate. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a society set up in this way? Do you think it is a good system?
– The Hunger Games was established to remind the citizens of Panem of the uprising against the authority of the Capital in their past. How do you think that this affects the growth and development of their society?
– How does Katniss’ home life with her family and friends influence her choices later in the book?
– Before going into the arena, Peeta says “I want to die as myself.” What do you think he means by this?
The Hunger Games is followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay, which continue Katniss’ story after her survival in the arena and how she becomes a symbol for a new way of life in Panem. Both are also good for family reading and discussion, and include themes like revolution, establishing government, and the moral implications of actions during conflict.
After finishing the books, you can check out Catching Fire, now in theaters, starring Jennifer Lawrence (Academy Award for Best Actress- Silver Linings Play Book) and Josh Hutcherson (Bridge to Terabithia, Red Dawn), and directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Water for Elephants). The film version of The Hunger Games is available online here.
Have you or your family read this book? What topics sparked a particularly good conversation? Did you think that it was too violent for young readers? Were you surprised by any part of the book?