Monday, March 23, 2015

Middle School Literature Circle: Revisiting THE HUNGER GAMES

My son's 6th grade class was doing literature circles, and his teacher asked for parent volunteers to help out. Being a kind and generous mafioso, I doffed my fedora and told him I was his man. So, for the past three Thursdays, I've been meeting with 7 students (1 boy and 6 girls) to hear their take on THE HUNGER GAMES.

Now, I'm not sure if THG can truly be considered middle grade, but it certainly appeals to middle schoolers. No surprise but, although several of the students had read the book before, ALL of them has seen the movies. Here is a sampling of their opinions:

1). To a person, they wanted the action in the book to start sooner. "Get to the Arena" seemed to be the general battle cry.

2) Several had parents who did not approve of the book (but I guess they let their kid read and/or watch the movie anyway.) Interestingly, before one of the sessions, I had to endure one of the other parent volunteers excoriating the novel. "Who would ever allow their children to take part in such a grisly event," she bewailed. When I shared this with my group, they rolled their eyes. "Hey, the parents didn't have a choice!" they said.

3) The majority of the readers read ahead each week, testament to Susan Collins's skill in pacing and building tension. She's great at tantalizing chapter endings!

4) They gave three cheers for strong female characters. "Love triangles" didn't bother them. (I know that they bother a number of other writers and readers, because they are an overdone trope. My middle schoolers didn't bat an eye.)

5) They enjoy dystopian fiction. There were discussions about other books, such as Divergent and Matched. Agents and editors may be tired of dystopia, but the interest is still out there.

6) They were all eager to read on in the series. "Hey," one of them plotted. "Let's ask Mr. C. if we can read Catching Fire for our next literature circle."

I have to say I had a great time with them. They were engaged and enthusiastic. It's nice to know that reading and discussing books still matters!

I'm heading off on Spring Break, and hoping to get a little reading in. May the reading and writing force be with you. Ciao!


  1. I agree that kids and others (me) still enjoy dystopian. And kids in 6th grade are reading books like this. They're ready for it. Have a great spring break!

  2. Sounds like you had a lot of fun with the group! And yes, as a (former) teacher, I found that kids like all the things that adult editors/agents/bloggers are tired of: dystopian, love triangles, series books, etc.

  3. Enjoy your spring break! I loved Hunger Games and its sequels, although it never ceased to amaze me when I was a bookseller how often a parent would complain to me about the violence. "Teenagers fighting to the death!" they would say, shaking their heads.

    To which I would reply, "What do you think war is? This is an anti-war novel."

  4. Sounds like a good group of kids. My grandson read the series when he was ten. If my daughter had asked me about it, I would have suggested he wait a couple years, but he was well into them and enjoying them by the time I heard about it. He didn't like the movies but loved the books. Kids will read whatever is popular with their friends and there's no stopping them.


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