Thursday, September 29, 2011
Banned Book Week- The Hunger Games
Young Adult - Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic
purchased for my Nook.
The American Library Association lists The Hunger Games as number four on the most frequently challenged books for 2010. The Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom cites that a parent has asked the Gofftown (NH) School Board to remove the book from her child's class "claiming that it gave her 11-year-old nightmares and could numb other students to the effects of violence." (School Library Journal, October 2010). The article also presents the general description of the book the parent gave to the board, which demonstrates that the parent has not read the entire book, and the child either did not pay attention to the reader (the book was being read allowed in class), or as the article seems to imply, had not heard/read the entire book.
This book has been sitting on my Nook Color for several months now. It was one of the first I got for it, so when I saw it on the list of frequently banned/challenged books, I had to read it now (works well for Read your own Books Month too). I had gotten it because I'd seen the hype, and everyone loved it (apparently, hype over Young Adult science fiction/fantasy does not phase me). This one lived up to the hype
. It is set in Panem, after a huge global warming event and war has devastated North America. The country is centered around the capitol, with districts surrounding it. Each district is responsible for the production/gathering of certain types of materials for the country. The capitol lives in wealth, while the districts are kept in reduced states, where it is not uncommon for families to barely get by. This is one way the Capitol exerts its force on the people, to prevent another uprising. The capitol also hosts The Hunger Games, designed to keep the citizens in the districts in line, and at the mercy of the Capitol. For the games, a boy and girl from each of the twelve districts are selected, given a small amount of training, and placed in an arena with minimal supplies for a fight to the death. The novel is told from the point of view of Katniss, the girl tribute from District 12.
I have a 10 year old nephew, and I don't think I would have any problem giving this book to read. Yes it focuses on a society that routinely puts children in fights to the death, but most of these are "off camera". The tributes don't get to know how the others are killed unless they were involved in the process; they just get a basic rundown of the deaths each day. So the reader gets to see a relatively few number of them. The majority of the kids selected do not want to be in these games, to fight and kill. But they must if they wish to try and get back to their friends and family. The ones the readers get to see aren't terribly graphic or gory either. Kids have seen worse things on the news, in the cartoons and movies they are allowed to watch, as well as in school. I know my five year old nephew has. Whether he understands it or not is another thing. But my older nephew is very much into fighting games (first person shooters), nerf guns and army men. But we've always gone over with him how his favorite heros aren't shooting just to kill, but they are fighting the "bad guys".
Everyone has had nightmares at some point in their life; that's no reason to ban a book. Like all books, this has a target age range to be a guide for parents purchasing books for their kids. Yes this could be a book emotionally difficult for some kids, but that's when the parents should step up and discuss it with the kids. But the average 12-18 year olds this is aimed at will have no problem with the reading or subject matter. By that age, they know the "effects of violence"; one little book is not going to determine if someone will be violent or not. And focusing on the violent aspects only blinds you to the more important aspects of being able to fend for yourself, as the tributes are called on to do, or standing up to what you know to be wrong, as Katniss does several times
I really enjoyed this novel, and look forward to finishing the series once my schedule frees up.