Thursday, September 12, 2013

What Would You Say?

This question is part of the GRAB(ook) Club, an online book club open to anyone and everyone. This month's selection was The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. 

I had not gotten around to reading the books or seeing the movie yet, but my 11-year-old sister got the ok from my stepmom last year to read the first book.  However, my stepmom would not allow her to read the rest of the books at this point.  At one point while I was reading it, Bear expressed surprise that the 9-year-old didn't see the book lying around and ask again to read it.  Apparently he was asking a lot to read it last year, and several of his third grade classmates were reading it.

Now that I've read it, I definitely don't think that he's ready for it.  He's reading Harry Potter again, but the violence there is much less direct.  People are killed, but aside from Dobby, no one gets a blade in them.  The good guys are using Stupefy and Expelliarmus, not trying to figure out when they'll have to murder an ally or feeling blood spray over them.  The institutional governmental control in Harry Potter, especially in Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows, opens up questions and discussions about prejudice and oppression, but they're imprisoning Muggle-borns, not killing them on-screen or making them kill each other.

So, I have a couple of questions.  I'm looking more at about the 8-10 year old age group here, both because I haven't known of kids much younger trying to read it and because I don't know how old the kids are that the rest of y'all are interacting with but my older one is 9 and I know Mel's two are in that range.  If you were talking to a child in this age range about the books, what would you think if they asked to read them?  And if they read the books and wanted to talk to you about them, either because you're their parent OR because you interact with them for another reason, what would you most want to discuss with them and why?

After you answer my question, please click over to read the rest of the book club questions for The Hunger Games.  You can get your own copy of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins at bookstores including Amazon.


  1. I think 8-10 is still too young, in most cases. And then I watch Bambi again, and realize that we've all grown up exposed to the worst man can do. So maybe it's not that big of a deal. But I'd rather have the child put it off a few years - maybe 13 or 14?

    However, discussing the books would be such a challenge. How do you cover things like governmental control or spending your life preparing to kill others or tacit approval of starvation or how far would you go to survive or closet rebellion? I think that's why 8-10 is too young. And even 13-14. They don't have enough historical perspective or world experience to process these concepts. When you learn some trivia about the former Communist countries who would take small children and put them into Olympic training camps, the idea of the trained killers from District 1 (or was it 2?) seems slightly less alien and sinister.

  2. I think 8-10 would be way too young. I agree with Are You Kidding Me that probably around 14 would be a more appropriate age. She made some good points about the knowledge and historical perspective to process the stuff in the book. I think we all get more out of books when we understand the context and allusions.

    For example, I think everyone should have a working knowledge of the Bible, whether or not you're Christian or believe it's all true, because so much of our literature and culture is based on the stories in there. If you don't know your Bible references, you really miss out on a lot.

    Another example: when I was in university, I took a course in Restoration & early 17th century English literature (!). I really had no idea what to expect and I wound up absolutely loving it. What made it a really great course is that the prof talked a lot about the historical context the poetry and plays we studied were written in. A lot of the works we studied were satirical and made fun of certain political and cultural figures of the time. We might have enjoyed the poem anyway on its own merits, but to be able to look at it in the same way that a reader of the time did added an extra dimension and added to the enjoyment.


    Not having any kids of my own, if a child wanted to talk about the book and some of its more contentious issues with me, I would probably find myself referring them to their parents. ; )

  3. I usually think the kid can make their own decisions about what they're ready to read... within reason. But in this case, if they wanted to (they don't), I would probably ask them to wait a few years. But we're also going to wait a few years for HP 6 and 7 (we're reading 5 now).

    I would want to talk about difficult decisions. Her choices were either suicide or murder. How do we judge that sort of person -- can we?