Ashley from Tips4Mom.com recently shared with us how to intentionally select the best books for your children. In response to her post, I received the following question in my inbox.
I appreciated your blog post about choosing books. I own the book Honey for your Child’s Heart but haven’t looked at it for years! I want to find it and pull it out. My kids are NOT avid readers I am sorry to say. I always was and do still love to read but go in stages with it as we are so busy. We are on a new quest as of early this week to make reading a priority with our youngest 2.
Anyway, the point of me writing is I would just love to hear your view on this latest popular book called The Hunger Games. It became a movie before I even knew it was a book. My daughter brought it home from 5th grade recently…
She went on to explain her concerns with the book and informed me that her daughter’s teacher was going to be reading The Hunger Games aloud to her fifth grade classroom. It certainly gave me a moment or two of pause.
The irony of this question was that my husband and I had just picked up the first book in this popular series and decided to read it as we traveled across the country to our new home when this question came in. I found it to be no coincidence.
Before I give you my thoughts, let me give you some information about Mark and me. We’re not ones for hopping on band wagons. For instance, I’ve never read the Twilight Series. We don’t watch TV every day, and when we do flip on the monster, we are selective in what we watch. Our radio stations are generally set to Christian radio, but sometimes, we will deliberately flip over to something secular. However, we do not mindlessly listen to the radio regardless of whether it is Christian or secular. As a matter of fact, I’m on strike from listening to one popular Christian radio station because they made a poor joke about the Duggars.
We are intentional about what our eyes see and our ears hear. We’re not legalistic by any means. There is a difference and maybe some day I’ll write about it. On the whole, I would consider us discerning readers and viewers when it comes to entertainment.
The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, was a battle for us. It quickly became popular, and a lot of our friends had read and recommended the book to us. This surprised us. Like you, we had heard the plot, and honestly, it was disgusting and nothing short of disturbing. However, we decided to read the book together.
Two chapters into this book and my stomach was in knots. I wasn’t sure I could continue. The writer wastes no time getting to the point. For those of you not familiar with the plot, let me enlighten you.
North America, as we know it, no longer exists. It has been destroyed, and divided into 12 districts. These districts are run by an oppressive government known as the Capitol. Every year, the Hunger Games takes place at the Capitol. One boy and one girl from each district is selected at random to take their spot as “tributes” in the game.
This is a spectator sport where the 24 tributes are thrown into an arena where they will fight it out to the death. Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl from District 12, takes her sister’s place as one of the tributes. The entire length of the Hunger Games is televised on national television, and everyone is required to watch. It is the government’s way of keeping the nation “in check.”
The tributes range in ages from 12-18 years old. Their only goal in the games is to stay alive. This means that they must kill each other using whatever means necessary to win. To not participate in the games would mean harm to their families.
Within the pages of this book, you will find suspense, romance, and a whole lot of action.
I can certainly see why many parents struggle with this book being marketed to elementary and middle school age children. There are a lot of reasons to be upset and concerned.
However, I do not want you to write this book off. Parents, I think you should read this book. Christian parents, I think you should read this book. Here is why I think every parent should read The Hunger Games, and with discernment, maybe even read it with your children.
The Hunger Games reveals our total depravity. I think this book goes right to the core of humanity. It shows us a world without God. The brutal way in which these children must fight for their lives is heart breaking. Yet, how often do our children find themselves fighting for their lives whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually while we sit by and spectate.
As adults, we take a back seat and allow our children to run the course of life alone. We struggle to read this book due to the brutal way children are treated and forced to act, yet we turn a blind eye when we see a woman shoved into the back of an 18-wheeler. We head to the Super Bowl with excitement, but care less that it is the number one event for human trafficking. We allow our children to walk into the nearest abortion clinic and end a life while alone and scared. We sit in our comfortable seats, staring at our plasma screens, and grow repulsed by the plot of this book turned movie, but if we thought for a moment about the children being born into poverty all over the world, we would see that there is not much difference.
Yet, when faced with The Hunger Games, we put it in a category all to itself. The problem, as I see it, is not The Hunger Games. It’s the fact that we merely see it as entertainment. Maybe you didn’t see it this way, merely entertainment, but I did. We bought the book to entertain us across the country. We bought the book to see what all the hype was about. We bought the book so we could tell our friends how disgusting they were for finding this book worth reading. Maybe you didn’t. But I did. Miss Intentional By Grace.
The Hunger Games evokes a level of sobriety that is needed. It will drive you to your knees in prayer. It will make you take a second look at your faith and what you are teaching your children. As I made these connections throughout this book with the world that hungers around me, I found myself in tears and unable to sleep. This book is a much needed reality check, especially for adults.
Furthermore, Stacy Makes Cents recommended a wonderful article from a fellow blogger that I had not yet seen when formulating the bulk of this post. Halle the Homemaker humbly shared her thoughts on allowing her teenage daughter to read The Hunger Games series. I found her thoughts on the plot interesting and thought-provoking, and I would highly suggest checking out her article: Would You Let Your Child See the Hunger Games?
However, I must agree that this book does not belong in schools, or in the hands of children without parental supervision. This book is not appropriate for their little minds without careful guidance from us, the adults. Children are much too impressionable and much too reliant on the world of fantasy, if left to themselves . They should be. God made them this way so that they would be compliant to heeding the advice of wise and helpful parents. They need us. This book could be a helpful tool with careful parental guidance, or incredibly confusing for a child still discovering the world around them. Only you, the parent, can know when your child is ready for the message of this book, and even then, it’s a book to be read slowly, building on an already solid foundational understanding of the Gospel.
The Hunger Games should not be read as mere entertainment. Just as with any form of entertainment, we cannot passively indulge our senses. We must be ever watchful, seeking God continually, and looking to see how this can remind us of and strengthen our understanding of the Gospel. For me, The Hunger Games reminded me of the sobering reality of the extent to which Jesus had to go to reconcile us to God the Father. We need a Savior, and Jesus came for that reason.
What do you think of The Hunger Games?
Please, be kind in your words, if you disagree with me. I love hearing from you, but since this is a sensitive topic, know that I have the right to remove your comment. I don’t for see this being a problem, and forgive me for even having to say it, but it is the internet. So play nice, folks!