The other day I was reading a post by Emily Whitten at RedeemedReader.com on the Hunger Games series. I definitely recommend it to those interested in a redeemed, biblical response to all the hype and hullabaloo surrouding the books. In her piece, she writes about the main idea or conflict that the Hunger Games presents to its readers. At it’s heart, she says the books are about survival.
As a volunteer at a K-12 public school, I hear about the Hunger Games every day. It could be a fourth grader showing me the word “breast” in the book, a fifth grader complaining to me about not being able to read it, or a high schooler carrying it all around the school.
I have often wondered why kids are so drawn to the story. A fifth grade girl told me it was well written, and I agreed (See a post by N.D. Wilson @thegospelcoalition.com on why it’s not well written), but I also thought that other well written and imaginative books are available for students to read. What is it that makes Hunger Games fly off the shelves here at school?
I considered greatly this idea about survival, and I think Emily is right on. Janie Cheaney, also on the redeemedreader site talks about the possibility that kids identify with the character’s struggles and the subconcious knowledge that maybe they really aren’t that good. Countless teachers tell the students that they are special and they are good kids, but do they see through the lie? Maybe the students are scared like Katniss to become the monsters that are lurking inside.
The teachers and adults at school always talk about the good kids that we have. I could totally see the craze about the books here being in part because the kids really know that they are not that good. They have struggles and need connection to others that struggle with real issues. I am amazed at the looks I get from students at times when I use words like “evil” and “good.” The students don’t hear these categories from teachers and adults, but they surely know about it in books.
Just before writing this post, I was with a student and we were talking about super heroes. We agreed that they don’t exist, and I wasn’t Batman, and I tried to steer the conversation to the reason we cheer and root for those “good” guys. I wanted the student to see that the basic character qualities we like in super heroes are the ones that could be in her.
I hope to be able to point the youth I work with unto Jesus, who meets them right in their struggle and offers words that are spirit and life. May the kids be able to say, like Peter, that they would go with Jesus because he has the words of eternal life.
Suzanne writes a good book; the marketing for it was without equal, but she can’t hold a candle, or spotlight for that matter, to Jesus and his life-giving words.
Be sure to check out redeemedreader.com for other great biblically minded reviews of Children’s Lit.