Too Young For the Hunger Games books?

Everyone, it seems, wants to read the Hunger Games – even elementary school kids. But how young is too young? These are, after all, books that take place in a post-apocalyptic world in which teenagers are forced to kill other teenagers. Surely, they are not appropriate for younger readers.
Or are they?

Although the plot of the books is somewhat shocking, the author gives her subject matter a thoughtful and thought-provoking treatment that rises above the gruesome premise. The main character, Katniss, is a hero in the classic sense – a strong and smart survivor who makes interesting and even admirable moral choices within the immoral universe in which she finds herself.

If you have a nine- or ten-year-old child who is interested in reading this popular series by Suzanne Collins, my first suggestion is that you read the books yourself and see what you think. You might be surprised to find that the violence is not gratuitous, the romance is tame, and the heroine is filled with admirable qualities.

Next, talk to your child about the books. Some children ask to read books without knowing much of the plot. Children of this age are good judges of what they can handle. When hearing about the plot, some children will decide the books aren’t for them. Others will start reading the books, but if the subject matter is too upsetting, they will stop reading.

And if your child does read the books, talk about the thoughts the series inspires. My own ten-year-old daughter read them a couple of months ago, and since then she and I have had many interesting conversations about human rights, government power, oppression, economic disparity, personal integrity, loyalty, and the importance of family -- all spurred by her reading of these books.

If you are still leery of letting your child read the books, the good news is that there are plenty of other exciting books to consider for them. For example: the Warriors series by Erin Hunter, the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, and the His Dark Materials series by Bill Pullman.

Written by Amy on April 21, 2012

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RachelF on April 23, 2012

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Gregor the Overlander, an earlier series, also written by Suzanne Collins, is an action-packed, fast-paced adventure. I read this with my son when he was around 9 or 10. My 6 and 7 year old daughters are starting it this week!

Melanie on April 23, 2012

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Amy, thanks for posting about Hunger Games! I've had similar conversations about appropriateness with adults, and I really appreciate the advice you give here!

Anonymous on January 31, 2014

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My 9yearold wants to read them all but the librarian says she's too young what should I do

Anonymous on November 17, 2014

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Like how at the end the capital turns the fallen children into mutated mutts who attack the last 3 survivors. One falls off the cornucopia and the mutts proceed to lick the skin off the victim, making for a slow and horrible death. And our hero gets to listen to his screaming for hours! So yeah, just one example of the appropriateness of this book for 10 year old children. But to each there own I guess.

Anonymous on January 23, 2015

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My 9 year old daughter wants to read them but my other 12 year old read the first one and watched some if the movies and said to me they have a lot of violence in them I'm

Anonymous on December 2, 2015

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Currently having this same conversation with my 11 yr. Old. I'm prepared with 3 other attention grabbing alternatives. His imagination and also nightmares can be incredibly vivid. Our call Is to hold off for now. I have read them and I have explain the plot and the author's purpose for writing these books.

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