Banned Books Week: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

It’s Banned Books Week so I’m highlighting a different banned book each day this week.  My posts will include the banned book, where/why it’s been banned (or challenged), my opinion, and a student’s opinion.  I’m also hosting a banned books giveaway, so I hope you’ll check it out and enter to win a banned book of your choice.

Banned Book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Where/Why It’s Been Banned: “Challenged and presented to the Goffstown, N.H. school board (2010) by a parent claiming that it gave her eleven-year-old nightmares and could numb other students to the effects of violence.” (Source–Quote taken from ALA banned books resource page)

My Thoughts: I can understand the parent being upset about her child having nightmares, but The Hunger Games wasn’t written for her child’s age group.  I know 11-12 year-olds that read this trilogy, but they’re obviously mature enough for it, although I question how much they comprehend.  It’s a parent’s responsibility to be aware of what her child is reading and whether her child is ready for the book he/she has chosen.

I won’t deny that The Hunger Games is a violent book.  But do we really want to make that argument when there’s so much violence in TV, movies, and video games?  And besides arguing which is more violent, we need to think about the reason behind the violence in Collins’ novel.  Many of my students who read this trilogy comment on how they can see something like the Reaping or the Hunger Games really happening.  We have conversations about violence in the media today and how shocking this story is.  This trilogy hooks my most reluctant readers and drives thoughtful discussion.  If there’s violence in the media that will make our students numb, it’s not the violence in The Hunger Games.

Student Response: One of my former students, Caroline, wrote this response for me because she’s awesome and knew that I procrastinated and didn’t have a current student write one in time.  “I don’t understand why a teenager would have nightmares over this novel at all. This is one I could not put down. I felt super-glued to the pages. If your eleven-year-old is having nightmares over this, you may have over-sheltered them. Watch what your sensitive kid reads, but don’t tell others what to read. I suggested this book to my ten-year-old sister, and if I had a copy I know she would read it without the effects of nightmares. There are definitely worse books out there.”

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