The kids are ruining my appetite for The Hunger Games

I came to The Hunger Games late. It was while I was reading Suzanne Collins’ juvenile series Gregor out loud to my children that I heard that she had also written a Young Adult series. The Hunger Games name rang a bell, so I decided to read it. In a weekend. Followed quickly by Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

The books left me breathless, sickened, upset, and gave me so much food for thought, it often took me a while to fall asleep at night if I was reading in bed.

In the meantime, I finished book 2 of the Gregor series and my oldest daughter asked me to please stop reading them out loud. While they are much (MUCH) less violent than The Hunger Games, this series has  enough suspense, death and suffering that my then-ten-year old was having trouble going to sleep at the end of a chapter. I ended up reading the remaining three books in that series alone. 

So it is interesting that this same daughter is now asking to read The Hunger Games. Why? Because “all the kids are reading it” according to some of her friends. And, yes, as soon as I heard that quote coming from the lips of a tween, my eyes rolled back in my head.

At first, I thought “eh, ignore it. Make a big deal about it and they’ll be dying to read it.” But, I have a big mouth and can’t ignore anything, so I’ve been telling them why they can’t read it. Whey they shouldn’t read it. And now they think I’m the big, bad mama who doesn’t let her kids read the most-hyped book since Harry Potter.

Hell, even my seven year old says he wants to read it despite the fact that he’s still working his way through Easy Readers. 

Here’s my gripe: The Hunger Games is not a Juvenile book. It is not even Tween. It’s Young Adult. It’s insanely violent and the violence is almost always against children. It’s bloody and scary. It is NOT the next great novel for kids who have finished the Harry Potter series.

Listen, I get it. The kids want to be “in” on the next big thing. I’m pretty sure kids have read Twilight though I think that is also a YA title. And I snuck Forever out of the library at 16 so I could read about Ralph. (heh)

But, man, when I hear that nine year olds are reading The Hunger Games, it bums me out. 

And if I see them grabbing popcorn and settling into watching the movie with me, my eyes are going to roll. I won’t be able to help it.

If you are on the fence for your kids, check out Snarky Amber’s excellent suggestions in today’s MamaPop article called Is “The Hunger Games” Too Violent For Your Kids?”


  1. I'm with you. I know we talked about this but I'm glad I'm not the only one. And yes, even Paige muttered something about reading it. Oy Vay!

  2. Anonymous says

    Know what you mean. It seems there's a push to make kids books more grown up more quickly that mirrors what we see w/ compressing school curricula. "Read by 5, Algebra in 1st grade, suicide stories by 8, torture by 10."

    Not sure who decided kids needed more dark imagery in their lives. My kid left alone will shy away from anything too grisly, Even the later harry potters got too rough for him, but he doesn't want to miss out. I find some of the grown up movies and stories less twisted and dark. Star Trek, Mission Impossible, for eg were quite palatable, but I think Hunger Games wouldn't work at all.

  3. Obviously you know I agree. I think it desensitizes them to violence – not a good thing. Honestly it's way worse than Twilight IMO (although that encourages blind irrational romance at a young age, but at least no ones being sliced up for entertaimment). I loved the Hunger Games books for myself. They were disturbing, violent, and creepy, but also thought-provoking in a way that I just don't think a tween could grasp, and if they could it wouldn't be worth it. Makes me worry about the future because my kids go through books so fast there's no way I can pre-read them all. No one has asked me to read it yet – I think they know what I'll say!

  4. While I certainly don't think that this book is appropriate for EVERY tween, I think a blanket statement about it is not appropriate here. I let my child read it (12) after I had read all three. She focused on the family dynamics, the closeness of the district families, the love between friends and her most favorite part of the book, is that a sister would do anything for her little sister. Not the violence. And lets face it, this violence was not depicted in a Stephen King manner.
    As a tween I hid in my room reading every ghost story, every horror novel, and let me assure you those were signicantly more violent than The Hunger Games. I am not damaged by reading about child abuse, or domestic violence, or murder. Oh, and i should add here that I had to explain what murder was to my 5 year old after watching "The Lion King", "Why would Uncle Scar kill Mufasa?" This is FICTION. Hunger games is FICTION.
    It sure is your right to not have your child read it. Maybe she is too sensitive at this point for that type of book. But you might want to limit the Disney Movies too.
    I think its just as important to talk about what happens in books as it is to talk about what they see and hear on the news, in social media, on the internet and through emails.

  5. Jennifer Laycock says

    I think drawing a comparison between Disney violence and The Hunger Games is a bit like comparing the four foot waterfall in my backyard to Niagara Falls. I'm just sayin'

    I've been wrestling with this for the past few day as well. My kids are no where near Hunger Games age. They are 7, 5 and 4. Its not on their radar. But I adore Young Adult fiction. I gobbled up Harry Potter, I read (and often times threw at a wall) the Twilight series. Same for many others before them.

    But I couldn't get in to The Hunger Games. The concept disturbed me. I NEVER spoil books, but I went and read the full plot synopsis for each book on Wikipedia to see if that settled me. It made it worse. I gave in and went to see the movie thinking it might spark a desire to dive deeper into the books.

    It didn't.

    I'm not saying they are bad books/films. I thought the film was VERY well done. As content aimed at teens and adults, I think it's challenging, but appropriate.

    What turns my stomach about this whole thing is the idea of it being assigned reading in middle school. Sure, I read Lord of the Flies…in Eight Grade advanced reading. Not when I was 12, or 11, or heaven forbid 10.

    Children are not little adults. They come into their own in terms of their ability to grasp complex concepts. It's why I have immense appreciation for J.K. Rowlings' brilliant way of writing her books to "age" with the reader in terms of content and topic.

    I don't care how mature your 10 or 11 year old is. You are opening the door to way too much way too soon in their lives if you encourage them to read these types of books. Can and should are not the same.

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