The Hunger Games: Too Violent For Your Kids?

No one anticipated that the Harry Potter fan frenzy could be repeated. Then came Twilight. And it seems we are in for a third round of massive fan-demonium with The Hunger Games. These three book series have encouraged reading like never before -- but are your kids prepared for the darkness of The Hunger Games?

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Just like Hogwarts and Forks, the nation of Panem has captivated a broad audience. Young adult literature has never before been so universally devoured and adored by tweens, teens and adults alike. But is The Hunger Games trilogy appropriate for all ages?

Is your child mature enough for The Hunger Games?

The premise of The Hunger Games is disturbing. These characters are living in a post-apocalyptic world where, once a year, two young people from each of the nation's 12 districts are forced to "play" in the Hunger Games -- a televised fight to the death with only one victor.

"The books deal with some very heavy subject matter and involve a lot of violence. Kids of 10, 11 or 12 could all easily pick up this book -- though the exact age really depends on their individual maturity level," says Sara Gundell, writer of The Hunger Games Examiner. "That's something parents will have to determine for themselves. Think of it this way: If they've read all seven Harry Potter books, they could safely pick up The Hunger Games."

Cool names from The Hunger Games >>

Katniss is no Bella, and that's a good thing

The heroine of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, volunteers to take her little sister's place in the games and finds herself in a life-or-death situation. She is forced to kill others to save her own life, which is the nature of the games. But there are moral choices to be made along the way and Katniss faces each using logic and, sometimes, heart.

Peeta, the male tribute from District 12, becomes Katniss' ally, but much more develops between the two, and a love story -- of sorts -- finds its way into this dark world and impossible situation, certainly making it a bit more relatable to every reader or audience member.

"I like the characterization of Peeta and Katniss -- they're smart, they're resourceful," says Caitlyn Bergeron, mom of two. "As much as I love Twilight, I would much rather my daughter emulate Katniss than Bella." Katniss is definitely no damsel in distress -- there is much to appreciate about this strong, clever young woman.

Taking The Hunger Games from the page to the screen

With the first trailer of The Hunger Games just released, fans are clamoring for a glimpse of notable cast members like Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, Peeta and Gale. They want to see the cornucopia, the arena, the funky hair of host Caesar Flickerman and the girl who was on fire.

Watch The Hunger Games movie trailer >>

Whether your child reads the book or not, there is the question of whether or not The Hunger Games film is appropriate. Bringing to life the violent deaths of children and teenagers at the hands of their peers is no small feat.

"Filmmakers have discussed their plans to delicately handle the subject matter in the books. They don't want to alienate their core, youthful audience," says Gundell. "Lionsgate is shooting for a PG or PG-13 rating, and I am positive they will make changes if need be to avoid an R rating. If your kids have read The Hunger Games, then I think they could safely see the movie."

More articles about The Hunger Games

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Jennifer Lawrence nabs lead in The Hunger Games

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Comments on "Should your child dig into The Hunger Games ?"

JS April 02, 2012 | 7:55 PM

Isn't it funny how we all 'switch off' to all the truly awful things that go on in the world (but is not in our face)and someone writes a fantasty trilogy and we all fall over ourselves to carry on about it like the world is about to end - get real will you - I bet the complainers are the religeous types...no doubt about it....

Sara Wiseman March 12, 2012 | 10:06 PM

I absolutely agree with Chris. This book is absolutely abhorent. It is shocking that it has captivated young readers, that Scholastic has published it under any guise, and that it is being accepted as literature or as appropriate for kids, or for adults. Absolutely horrible, evil, rotten, awful stuff.

Kathy February 29, 2012 | 1:42 PM

Well i think I don't have a problem reading the book for two reasons 1) how is this any different than some classics such as Shirley Jackson's The Lottery which has been read throughout junior and senior high schools across our country and 2) a child's imagination is only as vivid as its worst image. I would not have issue with my daughter reading this story. I would however not allow the movie at her age as nothing is left to the imagination.

Chris January 05, 2012 | 6:03 AM

I read the first book and find it truly repulsive and disgusting. Children are selected in a lottery to hunt and kill each other with swords, axes, knives, spears, arrows, mace, bare hands, whatever it takes. The deaths are gruesome, bloody and depraved. When I learned that the series was offered to kids in my daughter’s school I flipped through the rest of the series. It becomes ever more sick and twisted, more horrible deaths of the young and innocent of my daughter’s age. Some of the killings are “off-camera” but most are in your face, described in visceral detail. Perhaps the movies will be cleaned up, playing down the violence or raising the age of the characters. If they made the book honestly it would be rated NC-17 for the bloody slaughter of children by children. I cannot see it scoring less than an R rating without losing the original story substantially. I would not let a young teen read these books. They are horror stories. Nothing wrong with that genre for those old enough to deal with it, but this series should be for adults not children. Chris

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