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Can we ban the book-banners? Take them to an arena and make them fight to the death maybe?

Things you should know before you read this post:  1) I just finished The Hunger Games trilogy; 2) The first two books blew me away. I was hooked to the point of obsession. Mockingjay is the most disappointing book that I have ever read.  3) I know that I have a more liberal view than most of what kind of materials children can handle. I think communication is the key. 4) I’m talking about teenagers. 5)  I originally wrote this for MamaPop so it has a different tone than I usually use here. A little more edge and less reflection perhaps.

The American Library Association’s list of most frequently challenged books includes The Hunger Games trilogy, teen phenomenon and recent hit movie, for the second year in a row.  The list also includes such subversive influences as To Kill A Mockingbird and Brave New World. The reason most often given for keeping The Hunger Games out of libraries, both on-line and by people in my own life, is that it is too violent. “It’s a book about children killing children.”

True.  Like A Separate Peace is a book about a kid pushing another kid out of tree.  Like The Scarlet Letter is a book about adultery and teen pregnancy.  And Moby Dick is a book about killing an mfing whale.  In 2012, we are simplifying books to a parodied shell of themselves in order to remove them from libraries and protect our innocent teenagers.

Okay. I argue there are reasons to have teens read The Hunger Games trilogy, war, torture, disturbing violence and all.

The Hunger Games (the first book by that name and for the most part the entire trilogy although I found the plot weak at the end and unnecessarily rushed) takes a simple teen coming of age romance and underlies it with social commentary. It targets the way in which power corrupts no matter whose hands it’s in and the objectification of a group of people until their lives don’t matter.  It also covers government and class oppression and the horrors of war.  On top of all of that, The Hunger Games is a biting satire of the possible extremes of our reality-television-obsessed culture.

In the context of a brutal regime that pits its subjects against one another for its political ends and for entertainment, yes, teenagers are forced to fight to the death.  And here’s where the book gets really awful as it explores the themes of mercy, loyalty, courage, and relative and situational morality.

It’s true.  There’s no reason to subject teens to these themes. I mean where on earth could they encounter a situation where governments give teenagers weapons and tell them to kill each other while raining unfathomable horrors on all of their heads.  Hmmm?  I don’t know. Maybe. … Every War Fought In The Less Than Stellar History Of Mankind?

When could it ever be true that a ruling government would target a group of people, vilify them, scare the ruling class into believing that they were superior to this awful segment of the population and then brutally starve, torture and kill them with full support of an apathetic majority?  Tough one.  Sounds like Molocost.  Rhymes with Kalanda.  Two words … enough.

Even without the socio-political undertones, parents of girls everywhere UNITE because, oh hell yes, we need another hero(ine).  Did you catch it? Don’t you see?  Katniss is powerful and strong.  Katniss – a seventeen year old girl – is smart and arguably selfless and she can kill when she has to do it to protect those she loves.  Katniss feeds her family.  Katniss protects Peeta.  Katniss exercises mercy and struggles with compassion. Katniss reads Haymitch’s signals and survives.

Peeta is nurturing and kind.  Peeta is her softer half, encouraging her to hold onto her humanity.  In a war romance, Peeta is in the traditional role of the … girl.  And Gale?  Another strong male role? Gale is left behind to take care of their families.

Holy fireballs. Even my most favorite teen heroine, Hermione, doesn’t measure up to this.  Hermione is the brains.  She’s book smart.  She’s quick, but she’s not the leader.  She’s not the one with the charisma and the power to be the savior.  Nope, that role’s left to Harry Potter. A boy.  It takes nothing away from the Harry Potter series, but it’s worth noting that as a girl in the “circle of power” in that particular war story and rebellion, Hermione plays a very traditional role for women in the inner circle.  She’s the geeky girl at the computer screen.  Best supporting rebellion leader.

I won’t even mention the “heroine” of the books about sparkly people that cannot be named.  (Rhymes with My Fight.)

Katniss is a pawn in the power struggles of Panem, but she’s the savior. She’s the one that outsmarts them all right down to the final assassination of the new dictator.  Best supporting rebellion leader awards go to Peeta and Gale.

That is worth putting this book in every library in the country.

I understand why a parent wouldn’t want their child to read these books.  What I don’t understand is the need to control others.  If some think these books are too violent, then (brace yourselves) those parents can tell their children not to read them.  Parenting, it’s complicated.

But what if a teenager goes to the library to get a book that he is specifically banned from reading?  Congratulations!  It appears you’ve managed to raise a free-thinking, intelligent member of society in spite of yourself.  No seriously, maybe it’s an indication that this young adult is ready to pick his own reading material.

Bad parenting choices, however you define that, are just that.  They can be overcome by good schools, good communities and good governments.  They don’t define our society.  As The Hunger Games teaches, corrupt governments control everyone.  Banned and burned books have been the prelude to less innocuous situations in our history.

“Where books are burned, in the end people will burn.”

The motives of people in power may not always be what we hope they are.  Ask Katniss. Ask Harry Potter. Ask a citizen of Germany in 1936. Ask the prisoners of North Korea. Ask any soldier, you can pick the war.

The themes explored in The Hunger Games trilogy actually affect children in this world and we should talk about them with our teenagers, write about them, teach about them, and analyze them to keep history from endlessly repeating.  Real or not real?

65 Responses to Can we ban the book-banners? Take them to an arena and make them fight to the death maybe?
  1. Tracie
    April 16, 2012 | 5:52 am

    I want to give a big huge amen to everything you wrote here.

    I thought the first two books were phenomenal. They were the kind of books that sit with you, and follow you around, invading your thoughts, for days after the pages have been closed. That is a pretty powerful thing.

    And yes. YES! Thank you for saying that Mockingjay was the most disappointing book that you have ever read. I wish I could go back and unread it. It was not what I hoped for.

  2. Gayle
    April 16, 2012 | 7:26 am

    Haven’t read them myself although two of my children are. Now I’m kind of curious.

    “Congratulations! It appears you’ve managed to raise a free-thinking, intelligent member of society in spite of yourself. No seriously, maybe it’s an indication that this young adult is ready to pick his own reading material.”…. be careful what you wish for. One day it is a book you said no to, then a movie, music, a friend… I am a mom who has most definitely raised free-thinking, out-spoken kids who I wish would just shut the FU and follow the rules (even the ones they don’t agree with). Unfortunately, in 2012 our high schools don’t want to hear, appreciate or give a shit about an opinion that differs from the one they tell you to have…and if it does (too loudly) they tell you to get out. I taught my kids to stand up if they disagree and (sadly) I just wish they’d disagree quietly (quiet…loud…you won’t change the minds in a high school setting.

    So while free-thinking, intelligent kids are great…it doesn’t always work so well in the teen years. Just sharin’…

    • Erin
      April 16, 2012 | 1:27 pm

      “Unfortunately, in 2012 our high schools don’t want to hear, appreciate or give a shit about an opinion that differs from the one they tell you to have…”

      I have to ask that you please don’t lump all teachers and all schools as one. I teach 8th grade. If a student politely (ie, no eye rolling, rude or dismissive language–I WILL shut down a kid who is merely disagreeing to try and embarrass or trip up a teacher, because I don’t allow disrespect) challenges me, I welcome it and expand on the discussion. I’ve had students disagree with me on theme, on character motivation, on just about everything that might be relevant for discussion in an English classroom. I don’t quiet them if they disagree, instead we engage the entire class and hash it out. Sometimes they convince me that I’m wrong, other times we just have to agree to disagree. I’m sorry your experience with your children has not been the same.

      • Gayle
        April 16, 2012 | 6:42 pm

        I’m pretty sure I said “our high schools” which would not be “your” high schools. Sorry if you misunderstood. You may very well be an open-minded teacher and that’s fantastic! In my experience with our eight children who have attended ten different schools, have done online school and home schooled, tolerance for differing opinions has lessened considerably over the last 16 years. Again, in my experiences what was once encouraged is now being stuffed into a mold and silenced. Of course, this isn’t the case with all educators, but shift has gone from few to more in recent years. I’m also seeing a trend of expecting respect, but not giving it back that I didn’t see a few years ago (ex. just the other day a teacher told my son (in front of the class) that his shirt made him look like trailer trash. Had he told the teacher her shirt made her look like a whore he would have been suspended. Plenty of rude, racist remarks are made towards the kids and they have to suck it up or get into trouble….and yes, the admin knew, the teacher admitted and she had no consequences. Maybe she should have been suspended?).

        So my point was…in my interactions differing opinions are not valued as they were even a few years ago…and this along with police officers stationed in the schools and a prison-like enviornment is not just a result of bad teachers or bad kids or bad parents…. it’s a combination of many factors that as a society we need to get a handle on. And no, I do not have the answers.

        • tracey
          April 20, 2012 | 2:49 pm

          I am cringing in my heart now. My eldest wants to try high school out in a year after having been homeschooled (and raised to be an individual – boy is he EVER individual!) since 4th grade. I fear for not only his individuality but also his freaking life when I read about how violent and intolerant high schools are…

    • Anymommy
      April 16, 2012 | 2:55 pm

      Ah, I’m going to get bit in the ass by so many of my naive proclamations ;-) Please don’t leave me, I’m going to need you even more in six years!!!

  3. barbaloot
    April 16, 2012 | 9:56 am

    We don’t get to control the entirety of our children’s world. They will be exposed to things that upset us. We can either bury our heads in the sand, ban books, isolate them… or we can encourage them to think freely and nurture their ability to navigate a world that includes a whole lot of ugly and keep themselves as safe as possible so they are prepared.

    High school is a brutal place, and books are not the reason. There is a reason books and movies about cruelty among teens resonate. My high school was pretty violent – we had metal detectors at the entrances in the early 1990s. But ya know, strange as it may sound, the kids in the library reading books were not the ones flashing knives in the corridors and pummeling each other. Go figure.

  4. Kira
    April 16, 2012 | 10:39 am

    Holy Mother of YES!
    I have been getting a lot of grief lately from various friends, family random strangers about the fact that my 10 year old has read The Hunger Games. This is my child that picked up Harry Potter in Kindergarten and read it himself, and by 2nd grade had blown through the series. I had some concerns about him reading The Hunger Games. I try my best to be aware of and monitor what they are exposed to – but I am hard pressed to ever tell my children “no, you may not read”. So, I read it to him. Every night for weeks we read a chapter. I cried at the sad parts, he patted my arm and assured me “it’s just a book, mom”, we talked, he questioned, I explained.
    I can only hope I am managing to raise a free-thinking, intelligent member of society.

  5. Marinka
    April 16, 2012 | 10:55 am

    I can’t believe anyone who is not fictional would want to ban books.

    Except for Mockingjay. That shit should burn.

  6. Galit Breen
    April 16, 2012 | 12:06 pm

    I love everything about this post.

    I literally couldn’t put the books down – the themes that she portrayed based on her research were perfection and such huge, fabulous talking fodder, I was beside myself.

    (As a huge reader and former teacher, book bans give me stomachaches.)

  7. Sharon
    April 16, 2012 | 12:42 pm

    Love this post! A mommy among the men over there, hope they love it too!

  8. Mel
    April 16, 2012 | 12:46 pm

    My response overall would pretty much reflect what you just said. Including the part about Mockingjay being one of the most disappointing books ever.

  9. Katie
    April 16, 2012 | 1:13 pm

    Amen. To everything. How can we NOT talk about the issues Hunger Games explores? That would be the true crime.

  10. Peggy
    April 16, 2012 | 1:17 pm

    Very well said. I find myself in utter amazement at people who advocate book banning. Disgusted amazement, but still. I began reading the Harry Potter series way back when it was just one book because I heard a radio show about how it was being banned and my general philosophy is that if something is being banned by someone, I want to read it.

    I am also rather proud that my all-girls, very Catholic high school, which was extremely conservative when I was there, has made Hunger Games (the first one) required reading for entering freshmen for the last few years. And the entire freshman class went to the movie together. I love that! I assume that there have been great discussions about Katniss and her role as compared with Peeta and Gale.

    The only thing I don’t like about the Hunger Games phenomenon (other than the last book — I’m with you totally and am amazed that more people didn’t feel that way about it), is our society’s tendency to rush kids into things. I have a very good friend who took her 6, 9 and 10 year olds to the movie — largely because “all their friends were seeing it.” First, I don’t take my kids to movies about books until they have read the book, and second, A SIX YEAR OLD?! There is a time and a place for everything, and last grade school, early high school is fine for the Hunger Games. I have a 10 year old girl who is a very good reader, but prone to nightmeres. As I watched the movie, I knew that it would not be the violence that got her — it would be the Reaping, and the “ceremony” Katniss went through after Rue’s death. And a six year old? To him it’s just an action flick.

    • Anymommy
      April 16, 2012 | 8:35 pm

      Yes, how young is too young is another interesting question. I intentionally focused on teens (meaning 12-16 or so) in writing this because I have a prejudice towards thinking that they are ready (or should be). But like anything in parenting, it’s so dependent on the individual child and the level of communication between child and parent.

  11. Erin
    April 16, 2012 | 1:29 pm

    Could not agree more. Some of the most upsetting comments to me have come from the people who have said, “I won’t read those books. I don’t find kids killing kids entertaining.” Nor do I. Nor does anyone who reads these books and nor did anyone who read Lord of the Flies. That’s the POINT. It’s supposed to disturb and challenge and make us question our society’s own obsession with reality TV.

  12. Lady Jennie
    April 16, 2012 | 1:48 pm

    Yeah, I don’t really get book-banning. I think people don’t have anything better to do with their time. LOVED The Hunger Games.

  13. Adventures In Babywearing
    April 16, 2012 | 2:06 pm

    So, I saw the movie but haven’t read the books, but still plan to. I also am impressed when I hear that parents encourage their kids to read the books as well. I am that mom, too. I’m taken aback that more people don’t feel this way!


  14. Ryan
    April 16, 2012 | 2:09 pm

    I saw a preview for the movie in December. I started reading the first book in January and finished the 3rd shortly thereafter.

    I’m a 35 year old man(-child) with a liking for dystopian society themes and sci-fi. I really liked these books and started telling people about them. Imagine my surprise when the movie hype really started rolling AND EVERY COMPARISON WAS TO TWI-FREAKING-LIGHT. Yeah, I haven’t taken any ribbing over that. :-)

    Anyway, I think some of the themes expressed in these books are profound. Is it high literature? No. But that’s okay…high literature isn’t accessible. Hunger Games is…and that’s a good thing.

    My 9 year old has read the Harry Potter books. He’s nearly ready for these. And, I’ll be there to discuss the themes with him when he reads them.

    Food for thought on our “civilization”… Imagine that we, today, allowed for a real televised Hunger Games? 24 contestants. 1 winner. Winner gets a large cash prize. Entry is completely voluntary. How long do you think it would take to fill the roster?

    • Athena
      April 16, 2012 | 2:49 pm

      Sadly, minutes.

    • Sarah
      April 16, 2012 | 2:50 pm

      Sadly, I think you would have a roster in no time. And a corporate pay-per-view sponsor within seconds. It is disturbing.

    • Anymommy
      April 16, 2012 | 3:02 pm

      I agree. It would be horrifying how easily they could fill that “cast.” And I’m raising a little cousin to your nine-year-old boy who is right behind him on the reading thing. I fully expect to be dealing with The Hunger Games again in four years.

      • Ryan
        April 16, 2012 | 3:18 pm

        Good to hear. Here’s a pro-parenting tip (you should subscribe to my fake newsletter)…

        Putting in the time to turn children into early readers pays off tenfold. Kids don’t need nap time anymore? Bummer. Tearing yourselves to shreds with parental guilt over every moment of screen time allowed? No problem. Teach ’em to read and hand ’em a book…ten books…fifty books and enjoy hours of guilt-free silence. It’s golden. You’re welcome. :-)

        • Anymommy
          April 16, 2012 | 3:29 pm

          And this is why I’ve always loved you. You know without being told that the most important goal of parenting always is how to get your adored children to leave you the hell alone without feeling guilty about it.

  15. Megan {{Millions of Miles}}
    April 16, 2012 | 3:39 pm

    Amen. Amen. and Amen. Anymommy for President. :)

  16. Candice@NotesFromABroad
    April 16, 2012 | 4:55 pm

    Bravo is all I can think of … muchas besos y lotsa love. C

  17. Issa
    April 16, 2012 | 4:56 pm

    In my High School, there was always a section titled: BANNED BOOKS. Not because any books were banned in West Los Angeles, but because out librarian wanted us to know what was banned and why. That was always my favorite section.

    I remember when churches burned Harry Potter. That seemed so silly to me. If I’d been someplace that banned it, I’d of likely given it out to kids on the street. Heh. I’m horrible.

    While I think banning books is F’ing ridiculous in this day and age (I mean really is any book worse than the crime scene shows I watch every night on TV?), I also can’t see it ever stopping. There will always be closed minded people who believe they are protecting their kids by not exposing them to things.

    Now, I’ll be honest. I haven’t let Morgan read these books yet. She’s ten, yet I don’t feel like she’s ready. Every few months she asks me again and at some point in the next year or so, I will let her read them. I just don’t feel like she’s ready yet.

  18. Beth
    April 16, 2012 | 5:04 pm

    I agree with pretty much everything you said…but (I’m sorry, but there is a “but”), I teach middle school… Here’s the thing:

    My students are, mostly, obsessed with the trilogy. I am not an English teacher, but as an avid reader, I have a hard time making them put away a book because we’re in French class. I LOVE that they are that into a book, ANY book. HOWEVER, I have talked to them about the violence, the brutality that is portrayed, and most of them aren’t getting the social commentary, the purpose of this book about violence and oppression and compassion and all those things. My students are telling me that they like the story and that “it’s not that violent, why would I be upset?” Most of them can’t get the purpose of the story on their own. They don’t know that it’s a social commentary. They are lucky enough, most of them, not to know what people who have been in a war or people who are really starving or really oppressed have gone through. They get that it’s a good story (except the third one, which I also felt was weak and rushed and a let-down), but they aren’t getting further than that on their own. Think about it–this target audience, they’re just kids themselves. And they see fake violence all the time, TV, video games, movies, songs.

    So I agree with the everything you said about the books, ESPECIALLY the diologue with the young readers about the scary, violent, grown-up, real themes of the books, and the strong female hero. But, to me, these aren’t the “yay–they’re reading!” kind of books. These are serious. My fear is that the kids reading them aren’t getting that dialogue. By all means, young people should read these books (when they are ready)–but by all means, parents, adults, TALK TO THEM. Or else, what’s the point?

    It’s only a great book (series) if it makes them think.

    • Lauren Vo
      April 18, 2012 | 5:38 pm

      I think this comment is spot on. Well said, Beth!

  19. shannonannon
    April 16, 2012 | 5:58 pm

    Seriously woman you just continue to get better! I too loved the series.

  20. Michelle G
    April 16, 2012 | 6:36 pm

    TRUE story…..Years ago my sister-in-law sent me an email asking me to go to a book burning (DaVinci Code) I could NOT believe people would do something so stupid – and told her so. Seriously – she and my brother-in-law have refused to speak to us sense (and that WAS YEARS AGO) Nazi cow! ;)lol
    Who does stuff like that? I gotta tell you – I haven’t been too worried that my kids have never met their side of the family….no big loss other than perhaps a great visual lesson on WHO you DONT want to be like!
    LOVE your view of Hunger Games – We need more STRONG female role models!

  21. Michelle G
    April 16, 2012 | 6:37 pm

    oh sigh…since..not sense! I was on a roll ranting :)

  22. Tricia (irishsamom)
    April 16, 2012 | 6:49 pm

    Stacey, I’m very glad you started this conversation. Firstly, I had no idea they were “banned” anywhere and that does shock me; I think parents and older kids should have the choice.

    I will admit, that when I first came across the books, it was my nine year old who wanted to read it. I knew nothing about them, except what I read on the website that I consult that rates books and the ages that they suggest for reading them. I was a more than a little put off by the theme, until I started investigating it further, talking to my fourteen year old who had read two of them (she got them at her school library months ago and I had no idea that she’s read them). After learning from friends who’d read them and discussions with my daughter, who is a huge, huge reader, I realised that my own perceptions were skewed and that I would need to read them myself and then make a decision about how I felt.

    That said, my daughter, is fourteen – she has read and discussed “To Kill a Mockingbird”, amongst many others with me – we talk about history all the time, she’s read books about the Holocaust, she asks questions, she’s interested and very much the thinking child you described. I love that the discussions that ensure after reading books is always a great experience – even better than the books themselves sometimes.

    However, I also view this as a teacher and from a developmental point of view, as the middle school teacher above pointed out. Some children at twelve, are able to understand the subtle plots and understand of books on a very deep level, some are not. I think it very much depends on the individual child and their level of reading comprehension, maturity and the openess of communication between them and their parents or caretakers, or their teachers at school. This book was recommended by my daughter’s school – I know many parents who felt their children were not ready for it, and many who thought they were – I think it’s very much an individual thing and also developmentally it varies – the gaps are huge, even between boys and girls and how they interpret and understand themes and complicated plots.

    I like to think of myself as a forward thinking parent and I certainly don’t agree that anything that might open up discussion about history – past or present – should be banned or ignored. However, when it came to my nine year old, I did say that he needed to wait a year or to, because I think that he is just that little bit immature and developmentally young to either read the book, or see the movie. He’s particularly sensitive and I know that the books (from what I’ve read of the first – although it’s enthralling), might just be a bit much for him. Parents around here are going to the movie in droves with kids as young as five and six and I take issue with that.

    So, I’m glad you raised this topic, it has given us food for thought and I know that this series will be good fodder for discussions between my daughter and myself and eventually my younger child.

    Schools have no place in this – it should be a personal decision between a parent and his or her child. Thanks for helping me understand better how these books could in fact be a very positive influence in young people’s lives. : )

  23. thewonderfulhappens
    April 16, 2012 | 7:06 pm

    Great post, as always, Stacey! I hadn’t heard of anyone trying to ban the Hunger Games, but then again, I don’t get out much! In my opinion, it is a must read! And yes, I was greatly disappointed in Mockingjay, but that didn’t stop me from shedding a tear as I finished it….in a car wash waiting room, no less.

  24. Evelyn
    April 17, 2012 | 1:55 am

    It’s all wow! What a great ideas, I do love to share it on my pinterest in order that my friends can be here and feel the same way as mine…

  25. Alexicographer
    April 17, 2012 | 2:11 am

    I like the edgy you.

    I haven’t read the books and don’t have a kid for whom they’d be age appropriate (unless you want me to discuss with the 30-something stepkids, and sure, I’m willing. But one of those 2 spends workdays performing autopsies — I am not kidding — and I think pretty much knows there is horrible out there. Let’s just say I try to remember not to ask “how was your day?” if we meet up for supper…).

    Even not having read the books (and now I’m less likely to, because, darn it, bad third book in a trilogy? Oh ugh), I did think of Lord of the Flies, which I’d guess I read at– 14? For a class. With (as a result) supervised discussion of themes and implications. But I have to admit I am uncomfortable with the thought of reading a similar book (working here with Lord of the Flies since I know it) at, say 9. And unthrilled to figure that these Hunger Games books are such a “thing” that too-young kids (whoever those are) are being drawn in too early (ditto) and without adequate support/assistance/discussion.

    (Full disclosure: I took my son out of the house when my DH was watching a Star Wars marathon one weekend day, because at 3 or 4 I thought those films were too violent for DS to be in the same room as, even though he wasn’t “watching” them. DH thought I was nuts, but I didn’t care.)

    Long story short, I’m certainly not in favor of banning (though is it sad that I had to reread your title several times to realize you weren’t attacking banner ads?), but neither I am entirely confident that the craze over these books (which I am not really in a position to evaluate, not having read them) is appropriate, either.

    (Related: I had a friend who was going to take her 9-year old to War Horse but then decided against. I thought 9 was too young for the movie (maybe not the book or the play, I don’t know). I mean, I get it: World War I really happened! There was horrific and senseless loss of life! But I do think there’s something to be said for sheltering them, for awhile. My 5 year old still doesn’t know that people intentionally flew planes into the WTC, and I absolutely know we’re going to have to cover it and that plenty of people cannot shelter their kids even if they want to. But …)

  26. PsychMamma
    April 17, 2012 | 2:42 am

    FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC and a hearty AMEN to every word posted here. I love you, woman.

  27. AmazingGreis
    April 17, 2012 | 2:52 am

    Love this, LOVE you. Well said!!

    I too, was super disappointed with BOOK 3. Super disappointed!

  28. Alberta
    April 17, 2012 | 12:22 pm

    Book Banners Finding Power in Numbers

    Efforts to ban books in schools have shifted subjects and tactics, with the efforts of single parents now being replaced by organizations.

  29. Trisha28
    April 17, 2012 | 1:48 pm

    I do love to pin it with my friends, I really enjoy it and I am pretty sure they will like it too…

  30. Jenng
    April 17, 2012 | 7:51 pm

    I agree with you completely – Real for sure! My kids are not at the age where they are able to read them yet (7 and 8), but even my daughter has seen me reading them, and seen the movie trailers, and has asked me about them…I’m protective, but not overly so…so I told her what they were about, at an 8 year old’s level. She thought the concept was horrible, as it is…but wants to see the movie and read the series when she’s older. I told her to wait until she’s at least 13, but I’m not against it. A government who is overcontrolling and harmful to society is always a risk…and regardless of the form it comes in, should be something all children/teens should be aware of, even if the warning of such a society comes from a fictional book. Great post as always! I wish I had half the knack for putting my thoughts into words the way you do!

  31. Roshni
    April 17, 2012 | 8:11 pm

    I am surprised that this book is banned! The only reason I have not read the books is that I heard that it is a copy of Battle Royale, which is a Japanese movie. That kind-of put me off!

  32. tracy@sellabitmum
    April 18, 2012 | 11:22 am

    AMEN – My 9 year old loved this trilogy. LOVED.

    Also – I’m still so mad about Mockingjay. Gah.

  33. Loukia
    April 18, 2012 | 1:20 pm

    I had to scroll down forever to leave this comment, and rightly do! I nominate this best post ever! I read To Kill A Mockingbird in Grade 9. And many other books, like Lord Of The Flies. Hello… and Shakespeare! We all survived, yes we did. Maybe I got a little freaked in university when I read Dante’s Inferno, trying to imagine which level of hell I would end up in, but again, no damage done. I am against the banning of books, absolutely. Also? Team Gale. 100%.

  34. Lauren V.
    April 18, 2012 | 5:37 pm

    Mockingjay was such a disappointment. Everyone has already said everything so I’ll just add my name to the list.

    One other thing…don’t the book banners know that by banning the book they are just making it MORE likely that kids will read it? I mean, come on, that’s Psych 101.

  35. Lyka Ricks
    April 19, 2012 | 1:15 am

    Fiction packed! Teenagers and kids who are fascinated and hooked with this book trend should be guided. There are lot of issues to be discussed that has to do with the real scenario. However, we still maintain a heart and conscience that will not lead to some worst happenings mentioned in the book/movie.

  36. Korinthia Klein
    April 19, 2012 | 3:52 am

    Great post.

    I also loved the first two books and wasn’t thrilled with the last, but I was glad to have that epilogue.

    Completely agree about how refreshing it is to have a heroine focused on important things like survival and family and not even have romance on her radar screen. I wish that wasn’t so rare.

    And really, why is anyone banning To Kill a Mockingbird? Some people need better hobbies.

  37. Annie
    April 19, 2012 | 1:05 pm

    YES! AMEN sista. Seriously, I completely agree. Right down to the rushed MockingJay which just didn’t settle with me.

  38. magpie
    April 19, 2012 | 5:57 pm

    Yes indeedy. I too read all three books in a whoosh last week – smitten with the first two, disappointed by the third. And your points about the why to read them are spot on.

  39. Michelle
    April 19, 2012 | 10:54 pm

    I am with you 100% on this one. I wouldn’t have the wee ones read this series now, but someday? Yes. Should ANYone tell me what I or my child should or shouldn’t read? With the exception of the guy publishing a book about how to get away with pedophilia or something equally wrong on ALL counts, no. Our elementary principal wrote in a newsletter last week that she’s happy to see that some children are reading the Hunger Games in older grade. However, when people are letting their 3rd and 4th graders see the movie? That’s where it gets a little different. THAT is bad parenting, in my book.

  40. tracey
    April 20, 2012 | 2:35 pm

    Oh, hells yes. Everything I keep telling people and more. And more eloquently worded.

    My 10 year old has read the series. I figure if he is old enough to watch super hero movies, play war games on Xbox and be influenced by peers, then he is old enough to understand that life isn’t fair. Governments aren’t perfect. And sometimes we must rise up from below to knock down the walls that surround us.

    Many good conversations have resulted from these books.

  41. tracey
    April 20, 2012 | 2:37 pm

    Michelle, my 4th grader read them and watched the movie along with my 6 year old. Really, it’s not bad parenting. It’s just different than what you believe in.

  42. Sandra92
    April 21, 2012 | 5:21 am

    I am totally agree that The Hunger Games trilogy bring huge thing for greatness to all the parents and to their children…

  43. Varda (SquashedMom)
    April 22, 2012 | 1:56 am

    My 9 & 3/4 year-old 4th grader is aware of the books and knows that some of his friends have read them. They are in our house as I (who dearly love science and speculative fiction) bought and read them last year. However, he knows he has a vivid imagination and can have trouble sleeping after reading certain book (he couldn’t handle the HP series until this year – getting freaked out by the basilisk in the pipes in Book 2 in 2nd grade). So he has told me that he wants to give them a try next year, in the winter – when he is 10 & 1/2 (“I think I’ll be ready then, Mom.”)

    I love that my son knows himself and trust his judgment. That said, his (terrific) 4th grade teacher has “banned” the book from her classroom – without using that term. She has requested that kids who want to read the book – and whose parents feel they can handle it – should read the book at home, because the kids discuss the books they bring to school to read in class, and she feels some kids in her class can’t handle this material yet, which she feels is more appropriate for middle school.

    At first I felt a bit put off by her request and then I heard one of my son’s friends speaking with glee about all the blood and killings in the book, getting none of the subtleties or social commentary and viewing it as a giant gory video game, and I thought, “Yeah, a little more maturity would be a good idea before reading these books.”

    Thanks for sparking this interesting and thoughtful discussion.

  44. Kelly
    April 22, 2012 | 1:59 am

    Stacey, i have never even read these books (I will), but I just wish I could zap a few people off this earth and replace them with a few more of you. You are quite honestly one of the best writers on the block, in my humble opinion.

  45. MommyNamedApril
    April 23, 2012 | 3:31 am

    you’re brilliant, as always. i read the trilogy in as many days as there are books. i don’t read very often anymore, and that’s why. i have no self control once i begin a book. i agree, first was good, second was better, third was ‘meh’ … my kids WILL read this series.

  46. Aynee
    April 23, 2012 | 9:26 am

    I think that to compare some aspects of The Hunger Games to the Harry Potter series is not really good at all. For me, there is too much graphic violence in The Hunger Games.

    We can still have reading materials that can teach mercy, loyalty, courage and so on without showing a possibility of violence.

  47. Ashby
    April 23, 2012 | 2:39 pm

    I always read your beautiful blog, but rarely do I comment. Here, though, I needed to chime in with a rousing “Hallelujia!” I read the first two books with a group of struggling high school readers last year – the first books any of them had ever completed, and the first time any of them felt like there was something worth talking about in a story. For that reason alone, these books belong in our libraries.

  48. Mary
    April 26, 2012 | 6:22 am

    When I came into my office last Thursday afternoon, my desk was covered with those little pink message slips that are the prime mode of communication around my place. Maine Public Broadcasting had called, also Channel 2, the Associated Press, and even the Boston Globe. It seems the book-banners had been at it again, this time in Florida. They had pulled two of my books, “The Dead Zone” and “The Tommyknockers,” from the middle-school library shelves and were considering making them limited-access items in the high school library. What that means is that you can take the book out if you bring a note from your mom or your dad saying it’s OK.

  49. suburbancorrespondent
    May 9, 2012 | 6:53 pm

    Wait? You mean the Harry Potter books weren’t just about sorcery?

    It’s silly to ban books for teens. Now what I don’t get is encouraging an 8 or 9-year-old to read The Hunger Games. At that age, they are too literal-minded and just too young. But teens? These books are awesome for teens – themes of morality, self-sacrifice, etc. I love the way Katniss matures in the way she views her own mother.

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