It was my 14-year-old daughter who first introduced me to the Hunger Games months ago. But admittedly, I didn’t even open the book until I heard they were making it into a film. From the moment I got to know Katniss Everdeen, I plowed through the entire trilogy in a matter of 3 weeks, devouring every single page as if it were a tasty meal. One girl I know caught me reading the book, and expressed jealousy that I was going through it for the first time just as she had months before. Having enjoyed the books so much, I understood what she meant as I devastatingly read the last chapter of book #3, ending my moments of not knowing what would happen next as Suzanne Collins neatly wrapped up the trilogy.
Because we were planning on watching the movie, I encouraged my 11-year-old son to start the first book of the Hunger Games before we watched the movie. I used the week off of school for spring break as the perfect time to give him something to read. And because he needed the motivation to do something besides videogames and TV watching, I required him to read at least 2 chapters a day. He protested at first, claiming I was taking away his fun for spring break. But I admit to being more than a little proud when he read 10 chapters in one sitting on a night he couldn’t sleep. And he only had 100 pages left until the end of the book when we went and watched the movie last night.
I was curious about how much he’d paid attention to what he was reading in his hurry to just get the book over with. I didn’t have to wonder long. Several times during the movie I heard him protest (much to the enjoyment of those around us, I’m sure) about how they changed a fact here and there, or that they left something out. And it made for a great after-movie recap of the differences between the book and the movie in preparation for the AR test he’ll take soon, ingraining in his memory certain details of the story.
But at 11 years old, I wondered if the story of a society that glorified the killing of children by other children in an annual televised game would be too much. He seemed to do OK with it, only covering his eyes and ears for several expected moments of loudness or scariness. But while the movie seemed to do a good job of telling a gruesome tale without too many in your face moments of violence, there were several parts that could still be considered graphic or too heavy for a more sensitive child who could be affected by visions of brutality.
What was your take on the Hunger Games in regards to kids viewing it? Is there an age cap you would recommend for kids to be to be able to watch it? Do you have a young child who watched it? How did they handle it?
Share your thoughts in the comments.