The question weighing on many parents minds is, “Should my kids see The Hunger Games Movie or read the books?”
This was a question I was asked yesterday by a mom of a 9 year old boy at a baseball game after I told her I had read the books and seen the movie. My response was that she should read it first and decide for her child.
The movie is violent and deals with heavy issues. In the movie, kids (12-18 years old) are forced to kill other teens for survival when they are selected to participate in The Hunger Games. With that being said, I think the movie and books are very good.
Without a doubt, I do think that if you are going to let your kids (whatever the age) watch the movie or read the books you need to do the same and use the content as an opportunity to connect with your kids.
Here are 10 reasons why parents need to see the movie and read the book if their kids are doing it. And perhaps watch the movie with their teens.
1. The Hungers Games are not going away anytime soon. In fact, I predict it will be on the horizon for the next 4-5 years with the success of the first movie. The opening weekend superseded everyone’s expectations as movie production on the next book begins to take shape.
The YA adaptation opened to an incredible $155 million weekend, passing up “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and “Spider-Man 3″ to have the third-highest opening weekend behind “The Dark Knight” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. (MTV online)
2. This movie is emotionally charging a generation of children and teens. This became apparent when I witnessed a group of preteens in the movie theater raise their three fingers in salute when the teens in the movie saluted Katniss after she volunteers to take her sisters place in The Hunger Games.
Even as I, someone who doesn’t read fiction except on vacation, became obsessed with completing all three books after starting the first. The story draws you in on a deep emotional level and doesn’t let go until you are get to the end. Suzanne Collins is a brilliant writer.
3. The Hunger Games at it’s core is a story about young people growing up in a world of oppression and war. The books are published by Scholastic to be educational and to get teens to think about issues. It is a great foundation for parents to talk to their children about these deep and hard issues of life. See discussion guide below.
4. The love story in the book is very innocent. It shows a girl struggling through the emotions of having feelings of love for two boys who genuinely respect and care for her deeply. Yet, having sex isn’t even an issue. The love story is sweet and believable. Perfect time to talk to your kids about “real” love and sex.
5. The stark contrast to the poor in the Seam and the wealthy in the Capitol are vividly in the movie. Yet, it isn’t this feeling that the wealthy are evil for having money and the poor are mindless. The books show the contrast between the haves and haves not, but also show the ignorance and innocence among both groups about the other. This vivid contrast makes for an excellent conversation starter with your kids.
It was a radical reminder that we live in the Capitol.
6. The movie and books show the ugliness of what “reality TV” and voyeristic society can evolve to. (Which was very convicting to the reality TV lover.) Here is an excellent post from Dr. Holly Ordway that articulates this much better than I can.
7. Katniss is a mixed up girl forced into these situation beyond her years when she would rather be out in the woods escaped from the realities of her world. Teenagers, especially girls, can personally relate to the struggles that Katniss encounters. Sure in North America teens don’t have to worry about “fighting to the death”, but teens do have to make chooses when it isn’t so clear what choice is right or wrong, good or bad but yet the best choice that could be made under the circumstances. What an excellent opportunities for parents to share with their children their own struggles with choices and engage their teen is a conversation.
8. Katniss has a strained relationship with her mother after her father is killed. Her mom has a breakdown and Katniss takes on the role of mom at a young age. Yet, her father’s legacy has the greatest impact on her throughout her life. This is a great opening to talk to your kids about how Katniss relationship could be made better with her mom and ask your kids how you can better connect with them.
9. The movie and book has several different themes. The battle to survive by beating the odd is one of the main themes. The teens are put into circumstances where there is no hope of surviving. Yet, as Christ followers we have a hope in all circumstances. We don’t have to fight to win the battle between good and evil, because Christ has already won that battle. No matter how bad thing gets on this earth, we have a eternal hope in a victor that has conquered death and is creating a new earth.
10. Watching the movie and reading the books together is a chance for parents to take a journey with their kids to see what they are hungry for. What in the movie do they connect with?
- Respect from their peers or want to just fit in
- Desire for someone to love them
- Despair over oppression or poverty in the world
- Need for a mother that is present in their lives or for a father figure to guide them
What do you think about the books and the movie? How are you talking to your teens about the movie?