The Hunger Games Age Appropriateness
My 10-year-0ld, PickyKidPix, read The Hunger Games series against my wishes though it’s not like I’m going to go ballistic over something like reading! It’s just that I would have preferred for her to wait, even a year, so that she would get more out of it. No such luck. She challenged her table mates to a reading race. Pretty soon half of her class was powering through the series much to the chagrin of her teacher, who agreed with me about waiting, even half a year.
But an amazing thing happened. Because ALL her friends were now reading the book, it was easy to play The Hunger Games. Parts were doled out, and districts were defined. I have no idea what they actually did, but there seemed to be sticks converted to swords and hand to hand mock combat.
But … by acting out the movie, their outdoor recess play became a kind of book club! You really can’t hate that!
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Technically, this series is considered YA or Young Adult with an age recommendation of 12 and up. Click on image of book to check it out at Amazon.
With the movie a highly anticipated event, she knew my rules for PG-13 have always been that if you read the book (and thus know the pl0t), you can see the movie. She masterminded a trip to opening weekend with two of her friends, and they all delighted in seeing the movie. No one, apparently, was scared. In fact, it seemed to rev up their Hunger Games role-playing even more.
When her 3rd grade friend, age 9, wanted to see the movie and invited her and her older sister along, she was as horrified as I was.
9 YEARS OLD? DIDN’T READ the BOOK?
What is this world coming to? She was adamant that her friend was too young to see the movie. The cutoff, she was convinced, was conveniently 10 years old (and she is newly 10 years old herself). Plus, she thinks you HAVE to read the book first.
Against her advice, her younger friend went to the movie with her mother and with my oldest (a.k.a. Music Lovers) who is 12 and in 6th grade. Music Lovers read the Hunger Games series four times but finds certain movies quite scary. She loved the Harry Potter series, for example, but wanted to watch the final movie in the comfort of the small screen TV at home. She knows herself and is right to set limits for herself.
But here’s the kicker. The 3rd grader loves scary movies. It’s her thing. She wasn’t scared at all. My oldest had to leave the movie a few times, texting the mom friend to make sure certain scenes were done before returning. The 3rd grader was forced to tag along to accompany my oldest but was not perturbed by the movie. Perhaps it was because my daughter had such vivid images of the books from her multiple readings that though the movie scene was more tame, she felt more.
And, as it turns out, all the 3rd graders at our elementary school have seen the movie. And loved it. As for my 6th grader, she wants to see it again. And she’ll really enjoy it the second go round!
How about you? What do you think? What has been your experience? I find it comforting to have this Read and Play Community to share my anxiety about this movie. There was such great feedback from parents that confirmed my thought that age appropriateness for scary movies is a kid by kid decision. We parents do know our kids best, and sometimes, even kids know where their comfort level lies.
Like most parenting decisions, there is no right or wrong. The biggest irony of all is that The Hunger Games is too scary for me. I tried to read it but I found the violence of kids killing kids in a totalitarian government to be too upsetting. Too real for me. It’s one merely a reality TV show away for North Korea to become The Hunger Games.
At the end of day, I am grateful to The Hunger Games for igniting kids’ imaginations. Any book series that makes kids excited to read is fine by me. As long as I don’t have to read it myself since I’m the only one who will have nightmares!
Click on image of book to view at Amazon.