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Why your teen should see The Hunger Games

Elizabeth Weiss McGolerick is a freelance writer and editor who contributes regularly to SheKnows, MintLife, AOL, iVillage and other sites. In her articles, Elizabeth covers a variety of subjects including relationships, pregnancy, paren...

The Hunger Games: More than pop culture

It’s one thing to read about teenagers slaughtering each other -- it’s quite another to see it happening super-sized on the big screen. Should you have reservations about your kids seeing The Hunger Games?

Hey, parents: Are you ready for your kids to see kids killing each other in a post-apocalyptic world? You should be.

The appeal of The Hunger Games

If you’ve got a Team Katniss, Team Peeta or Team Gale fan in your home, they’re going to demand a ticket to a showing of The Hunger Games. They want to see Panem and the Arena come to life. They may be chomping at the bit to see the demise of the least likable Tributes. Or maybe they just want to get a glimpse of Seneca Crane’s funky-cool beard.

You may be thinking: Yet another crazy pop culture phenomenon spurred on by young adult lit? Try not to be judgmental if you haven’t cracked the spine on this tale yourself. It may not sound like a world you want to live in for any period of time -- but that’s exactly why you should read it. And why it is speaking volumes to your kids.

The relevancy of The Hunger Games

Unlike the mystery of magic that Harry Potter provides, and unlike the sex appeal oozed by Edward Cullen and Jacob Black, the romantic aspect of The Hunger Games takes a back seat to the original primal need: survival.

We live in a world obsessed with reality television, in a culture that plucks stars from the YouTube ether. Today’s kids are doing whatever they can to get themselves noticed and on television. Their biggest worries? Whether they’re wearing the “right” clothes and rocking the “right” haircut.

But in the fictional world of Panem, Katniss Everdeen and the other Tributes would give anything to not be forced to fight their peers to death. Everyone else cares about their appearance, but all they can think about is food, weapons and staying alive. Even worse, their foray into the unknown of The Hunger Games Arena is televised live -- and the powers-that-be have ordered every resident of Panem to watch this annual bloodbath.

Kind of puts the idea of fame into perspective, doesn’t it?

Gasp! The Hunger Games director changed the plot >>

Talking about The Hunger Games with your kids

Get talking with these Hunger Games themes:

  • courage
  • standing up to oppression
  • sacrifice
  • family
  • appearances
  • natural beauty vs. artificial beauty
  • money
  • power

The Hunger Games is ripe with talking points. Kristin, mom of one, says, “The book focuses so much on courage and standing up against oppression, as well as what good people are forced to do when under that oppression, that I think teens and parents can have a meaningful discussion about these major themes.”

Beyond the deep and philosophical, you could ask your child why they think Effie looks like a kabuki supermodel, why the Capitol residents are freakishly overdone, why perseverance and cunning should be prized above unnatural beauty and brute strength. Ask your child whether he would rather live in the opulence of the Capitol or fend for himself in District 12.

Captured in The Hunger Games movie trailer is that heart-stopping moment that all diehard fans are aching to see -- when Katniss sacrifices herself in place of her young sister Prim. “I volunteer as Tribute.” Ask your son or daughter how far they would go for family. Ask your child if she would have the courage to stand up for someone who isn’t as strong as she is. (Better yet, ask her if she’s done it already.)

Go see The Hunger Games with your kids. Let them tell you why we are so fortunate to live in this country. Then indulge your daughter when she wants to gush about Lenny Kravitz as super-lovely Cinna. Because, after all, isn’t the freedom to switch from the serious to the frivolous one of the reasons we should be grateful to not live in Panem?

Tell us

Will you let your child see The Hunger Games movie? Why or why not?

More about The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games: Get Katniss’ hairstyles
Should your child dig into The Hunger Games?
Inside look: The Hunger Games premiere

Photo credit: Lionsgate
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