Now that “The Hunger Games” is in theaters, we’re seeing more stories about the book it’s based on getting teens excited about reading. But are they fired up about reading — or about reading “The Hunger Games”?
Long before all the hype about the film “The Hunger Games” began, the book “The Hunger Games,” was declared a phenomenon.
Now that the movie is in theaters, and fans are all fired up again, we’re seeing more stories about the book, the first in a dystopian trilogy by Suzanne Collins published four years ago, getting teens excited about reading. The same thing happened with the Harry Potter series, though the indoctrination probably started at a younger age. At a time when ever more electronic media producers are competing for the thinnest slices of the teenage attention span, adults like to take comfort in any reason to believe kids are reading something.
But are teens and young adults fired up about reading — or about reading “The Hunger Games”? In other words, is this a desire to read, or is it just another pop culture obsession — one that plays out in blogs, fan sites, theme parties, movies, video games?
Do you find the series has awakened a desire in teens to read?
There’s little doubt why the book (and the series) is so popular. Twenty-four teenagers are thrown together in a kill-or-be-killed struggle with each other — the perfect scenario for a population obsessed with reality TV. There’s a suspenseful storyline, it’s filled with action, there’s a strong female protagonist and a bit of a love story, so the series appeals to both boys and girls — a coup for any book. Who doesn’t love a rebellious teen — as long as she’s safely ensconced between the covers of a book and not smoking pot out behind the garage.
Adults are equally keen on the series, and some are just as obsessed as the kids. It deals with some pretty heavy themes: government, liberty, revolution, class, shifting societal values. The strength of science fiction, or speculative fiction, is the mirror it holds up to real life present day. Yet through it all is an underlying sense of hope and the importance of fighting for what you believe in.
In “The Hunger Games” there is much to excite teenage minds — and much material for teachers, parents and other adults to hang some important life lessons on.
Do you let your kids read the books? Do you read the books with them to create opportunities for discussion?