Friday, March 30, 2012

What The Hunger Games is Teaching My Children

Since the release of The Hunger Games movie, I’ve seen a lot of controversial conversations happening online. People love it. People hate it. People are disturbed by the very idea of having children see such a movie, or adults for that matter. Children forced to kill each other? No way.

Except I WANT my kids to read the books AND see the movie. I WANT them to think about the effects of war. I want them to realize that not every adult who tries to force them to do something has their best interests in mind. I want them to learn to think for themselves, believe for themselves, hope for themselves. I want my kids to figure out how to survive in the wilds of the real world—whatever that world is like when they get there.

Three of my four kids read the book before we saw the movie. And they GOT IT. Even my youngest (11) understands that it is truly not a story about kids killing kids, but of kids learning how their actions can change things. They can change themselves, their families, their communities, society, and yes, they can change the world.

What’s more, I think that as the series progresses, as they find out what happens next, they’ll see what hatred and war can do, how it can destroy people, and also how hope can give them the power to rebuild.

Granted, this is not a story for little people (as mentioned above, my youngest is almost 12). And it’s not something anyone should read or watch hoping for any kind of lightheartedness. It’s a heavy subject. It’s a heartbreaking subject. This story stabs us in the heart and twists until the very end. But it’s a beautiful story of hope, determination, and love.

In case you haven’t read my blog header, those things are important themes in my life. Themes I want my children to really get. So yes, I took them to the midnight premier. Yes, we discussed all these things, and yes, I’m quite certain they understand why this movie (and the book series) is so big and so important to me.

Because some stories are more than mere stories. They’re lessons we should all learn, even the young.

So what about you? Did you go? Would you take your tween?

16 comments:

Rebecca Belliston said...

(comments are working again--yahoo) I whole-heartedly agree. Not only did I take my 13yo daughter to see the midnight showing, but I took 7 of her friends. If the movie was condoning violence, I never would have. It was shunning it (while not actually showing most of it--thank you director btw). I will say, though, my daughter and I read the books first, which I would recommend.

Carolyn V said...

Yes I would. As a matter of fact when my hubby and I exited the movie he said he was going to buy the movie for our (older) kids and have that same discussion with them. It has many lessons in there. ;)

Randy said...

I went. I probably would not my tween, but that would depend on the personality of the specific child.

Nichole Giles said...

Rebecca, yep, my kids and I read the books first too, and I agree that was a good thing. Now they've zoomed through Catching Fire and Mocking Jay with record speed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Nichole Giles said...

Carolyn agreed! I think the people who think it promotes violence missed the whole point of the movie.

Nichole Giles said...

Randy, I agree that not all tweens can handle a story of this magnitude. Mine is pretty mature. Some of my nieces and nephews, not so much. So yes, this is definitely a judgement call for parents. Great thoughts!

Mary E Campbell said...

My almost 11yo wants to see the movie really badly. I don't want him to see the violence. I do want to read the book with him though. I want to be able to discuss with him why it's an important story to understand. I tried to explain it to him yesterday, but he got all into the games and how he'd be the winner. When I tried to explain to him that winning is not the point of the story - he just didn't get it. I think I need to read it to him and then maybe he will. I'm uncomfortable with the romance part of it though. Luckily the first book doesn't have very much in it. I do think it's an important book to read and discuss with our kids. I haven't seen the movie yet though. I've been looking forward to it forever, but now for some reason I'm reluctant. I hate the idea that we may be no better than the capitol - watching and maybe secretly cheering when certain characters are killed. I think I'll wait for the DVD. I hate watching violence on a big screen. Sorry, I wrote a novel. I think it's great that you want to discuss the books themes with your kids.

Leigh Covington said...

This is awesome. VERY true. I think there is something they can learn too. My kids are still pretty young, (my oldest only ) but I want him to read it when he gets a little older. It has some great concepts to learn and its done effectively. Great post :)

Donna Hatch said...

We haven't been to see the movie yet, but my older four children have all read at least the first book--my 14 year old did it upon my recommendation. They all got it. My younger two are 9 and 11 and I know this would be too much for them.

We'll probably see the movie. We've discussed the book, but probably not to the level you have, but we certainly will before and after seeing the movie. I feel like I'm walking a thin line when I try to balance exposing them to ideas that will teach them something, and not letting them witness too much brutality which can have a numbing effect for violence, something I certainly don't want. You've give me some great ideas on how to handle it when we do see the movie.

Nichole Giles said...

Mary, the good news is that the movie itself doesn't show a lot of violence or blood. The directors and movie makers did a great job of keeping those parts off camera. Also there's only one kiss shown in the movie. The romance is really downplayed. I hope you get to see it soon and that you love it.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks Leigh!

Donna, the good news is that the movie directors did a good job of keeping most of the violence off camera. This is definitely a hard call for some parents. But I think movies or books like this--ones that bring up subjects that are usually difficult to discuss--can be great teaching tools for us.


But this is coming from a mother who's kids are all teenagers. It's definitely not something I'd take a younger kid to see.

L.T. Elliot said...

All of these themes are things everyone should be aware of. Life isn't a game and treating life like it's disposable is something I abhor with everything in me. I'm glad you're passionate about this and about teaching that to your kids. It's one of the things I love about you.

Nichole Giles said...

L.T.,you're awesome. I know you're like me in this way. Determined to give our kids every ounce of knowledge we can while they're still young enough to absorb it. Hugs!

Tracee Orman said...

I agree, Nichole! There are so many positive messages in this series. Yes, it shows the true horror of war, but we allow our 18-year-olds to go off to fight a war they may not understand or even support, forcing them to fill their fellow man. When you think about a mandatory draft during wartime, it's not that different.

I took my 13-year old son to the midnight premiere. He read the book when he was 11 and we talked about it & read parts together. I teach all three books at my high school and will be taking my students to the movie after spring break.

The Hunger Games trilogy has given us new ways to discuss war, making connections to history. Students are much more interested in learning about our past when they know there are so many connections in The Hunger Games.

And you are so right about them wanting to make a difference. They, too, want to be a mockingjay and help people who can't help themselves. It really has been uplifting.

I'm so glad you wrote this post. So many parents only see the surface and believe the movie/book is promoting violence, when it is the exact opposite. That said, unless they understand that "winning" is not really winning, they are too young or too immature to understand the story. There were some kids who cheered at the end in our theater and we were appalled.

Tracee Orman said...

Oops...I meant *kill not fill!

Nichole Giles said...

Tracee, thanks for sharing your awesome thoughts. There were no cheering kids in our theater, but there was a lot of clapping and several sniffling adults. I was impressed.