Parent reviews for The Hunger Games, Book 1

Common Sense says

Exciting, provocative tale of lethal reality show.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 210 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 954 reviews
Adult Written bycanadianteacher March 12, 2012

My two cents.

I'm going to write this from an educators point of view, but not as a parents. I am by no means the kind of teacher that tries to push boundaries in school. We only watch "G" rated movies and I focus very heavily on moral values and good behaviour. I think that children are saturated with images of too much sexuality, poor morality, and very negative role models. However, I am considering reading this book with my grade 7 classroom, most of whom have already read the series.
I think that in schools, for as long as I can remember, students have been reading books with just as much fictional and political violence. I think to Lord of the Flies, The Giver, Pankration and so forth. While I do agree that these books are deeply emotional and violent I do not think they portray violence in the way that video games do, or for that matter most television and movies. There are fairy tales and biblical stories with far more horror. And while some may claim the books have violence of a video game nature, I've also noticed that these books appeal both boys and girls, while video games appeal to a vastly male population.
I see these books as a way to engage students in government and literacy. I see characters who are deep. I don't feel an urge for violence or sexuality - in fact it is almost entirely the opposite. I read these books and felt quite strongly as though middle school ages children should be exposed to them.
Does it reflect OUR society? No, and we are lucky for that. But I look at the recent "Kony" outbreak over the internet that talks about child soldiers who are forced to mutilate and murder their own family. How does Lord of the Flies reflect our Society? Or The Girl who Owned a City?
If the book does not promote sex, does not promote murdering other children (let's face it, it doesn't promote it in any way), but DOES describe violence why then must be it censored? At what age does a child come into the real world? If as a general population they are given cells phones, open access to the internet, fairly free roam with movies and television, why deny access to engaging literature that might actually make them think or.... enjoy reading? The students I come across that aren't exposed to these things are what I would consider sheltered, over protected, and ill-prepared for reality.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 6 and 9-year-old Written byAndy and Lynne March 23, 2012

Not for children, no matter their reading ability!

I have read the entire series and it is a well written thought provoking work. My husband and I spent a week talking it through and digesting all that Collins dishes out. that said, this is not a book for children or even young teens. I have a very mature reader, who is 9yrs old, and I have a hard time finding material for her to read. A teacher at her school once told me the following: If the main character is more than 2 years older than your child, it is most likely not a book suited for them, no matter what their reading level. I try to follow this advice and will for this series. Katniss is about 16 years old, so my child will be 14 when i allow her to read this series. There is so much value in these books when read at the appropriate time. Read to early, I fear, the child will merely see the violence and not have the maturity to see the deeper message. The message in this series is to valuable to be given too early!

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Parent of a 1-year-old Written bysmaurine June 17, 2011

I would never allow a child or youg teen to read this

It is a good story, don't get me wrong, but no way would I ever let a child or young teen read this violent book. It's disturbing, to say the very least. It reminds me a lot of the feeling I got when forced to read Lord of the Flies as a youth: creeped out!
Good aspects: It shows the unfairness of class differences and promotes deep thinking/discussion; it’s also a rather addictive read. The main character is brave, wise, and rather selfless, but I hesitate to call her a role model because she is forced to kill and maim.
Bad Aspects: It’s way too gory and horrifying. After reading some of the death scenes I was shaken for days. When a very young girl was speared to death, I couldn't stop crying. It's not the description of the violence that is disturbing, but the implied terror the mere children feel and the continuing loss of character after character. This book is not for children, but if you decide to let your (older) teenager read it, please take the time to read the book first and make sure it's suitable for your child because I believe it is possible for a sensitive person to experience vicarious trauma just from reading this book.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Parent of a 9 and 11-year-old Written byNRCReader April 17, 2011

Discussion, discussion, discussion is the key...

Hunger Games is a book with many messages meant to mirror problems in our own society, namely desensitization to violence on tv, reality tv shows that blur the lines between real human sufferring and being kicked off the island, war, famine, haves vs. havenots, just to mention a few. It's a though-provoking read, meant to be discussed and examined by children and their parents/teachers. These issues are alive and well in our own 'reality' and pose threats to our youth that cannot be swept under the rug. Hunger Games provides an entertaining, suspense-filled, well-written stage for these issues to be brought forth and examined with young people - with the hope that they can recognize and become part of the groups of people who work to end them. It's also a great way to look at the decadence of the Roman time period and draw parallels to both the book and our current "reality".

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Educational Value
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byKay409 November 28, 2010

Too violent and disturbing for kids

My child just read this book in the 6th grade. He liked it and asked me to read it. Wow I was shocked that the school thinks it is a good idea for grade schoolers to read this. This book is not for pre-teens. While it is well written and a page-turner, that does not make it a great read for kids. It is full of really awful graphic violence. The story is kids are forced to kill kids and that is not what I want my 11 year old's head filled with. It is like letting a child play a violent video game over and over. If you put junk in you get junk out. The message of the book is not to give official authorities too much power over your life so I guess I will call his teacher tomorrow and let her know I am exercising my parental rights to not have my child read the rest of these books at this time.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byCoredestroy October 14, 2009

Hauntingly feasible, irresistible to put down, impossible to forget.

I am currently teaching it to my 7th grade class. We are exploring the social issues of poverty, classism, devaluing human life, and risks of extreme entertainment. Hunger Games has electrified discussions in understanding character motivation, thematic irony, the human condition, and societal injustices. Every kid has had something to say, and often their insight into why people do what they do is captivating. A powerful, edgy novel that motivates non-readers and stimulates the minds of the well read.
Adult Written bycaitiemm January 28, 2011

Amazing book series, but shouldn't be taken lightly

First off, I love this series. I think the messages within it are more mature and useful in this day and age (as it, not like Twilight and pointless vampire romances). I believe it's one of the best series I've read (though the last book I was not as happy with, but that's for another time).

However, I would strongly suggest you NOT let anyone under 14 read it, though it does depend on the child. While this book in particular might be okay, a child will continue to want to read the series till the end, and I don't believe Mockingjay and the book series all together should be swallowed by a child.

What you need to consider is your child's maturity and perception on difficult situations. This book is very political and war centered with a feel of the Holocaust to it. It deals with many rights and wrongs and human nature (how strong it can be, and how horrible). This series should not be taken lightly, and I highly recommend you read it before your children to see if they can handle the undertones of this book, and then use this opportunity to discuss these difficult subjects with them.

One of the things you should be careful of is the desensitization this can cause to difficult subjects. As the series goes on and death tolls mount (among other things), the young reader might start getting defensive and numb.

If your child is not ready to talk on issues of WWI or WWII, don't give him/her this book yet. Give it time so they can get everything they should out of the book and not be numbed by it.

But I will note, that while this book is based on violence, Collins handles it carefully so not to make it too gruesome. The physical violence is not what concerns me for young readers wanting to read this book.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Educational Value
Positive role models
Adult Written bygreatmomof2 February 24, 2012

YUCK

Far too violent. The author's writing is great. She does an excellent job of vividly describing children killing one another. You can almost feel the blood being spewed in your face by the child who is pierced in the neck by an arrow.
And people wonder why children today are so desensitized to violence. Amazing!

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Parent of a 11 and 14-year-old Written byK67 February 23, 2012

What is the value of human life?

The premise of kids, who have nothing to do with one another, being ordered to kill each other for spectator sport is horrific. Have we not evolved at all from the era of gladiators? Yes, it is a captivating read, yes, it is a strong female character, but the fact that no one is bothered by the whole premise of the story is deeply disturbing. My 11 year old sees no problem with the book, and "everyone at school is reading it". I find it disturbing that this is what it takes to get kids stimulated to read. Have I let her read it? Yes. Am I proud of that? No. The fact that other parents are more disturbed by the drunken nature of Haymitch than the fact that the main characters have to kill one another is also indicative of the hypocritical approach we take, as as a society, to the value of human life.

This title contains:

Positive role models
Adult Written byNightOwlSakura April 27, 2020

Amazing Book, But for Middle School and Up

A lot of parents on here are looking at this in a overly parent point of view, and I'd normally say that that's a good thing, but it may be a bit restrictive in this scenario. To start...

Violence: There will be violence. It's a book about a bunch of preteens and teens fighting to the death. There are a lot of deaths, but the gore isn't bad at all. I'd rate it a 2 on a scale of 1-10. It's there but not too descriptive. The injuries are realistic, and when will your child be exposed to realistic injuries? When it happens to them?

Sex: There is some kissing, I'd rate it about a 3 (still using a scale of 1-10). In the series, prostitution is mentioned twice, never descriptive. In the first book it's mentioned indirectly, but in the second book it is mentioned directly. That's why I rated it as middle school and up, and it's sure to bring up some interesting questions in younger audiences. I don't know how you raise your children, but you'll have to be the judge of that.

Swearing: There is very mild language. The only 'bad word' used is "Hell", and it's only used a few times.

Drinking/Drugs/Smoking: There is one character with a very bad drinking problem (as he even goes so far as to almost buy rubbing alcohol when the stores are out of liquor). Despite his problem, he is one of the best characters and never does anything bad. He's the mentor to the main characters, as he won one of the games himself. He's been through a lot in his life and lost his whole family, so his problem is understandable.

Positive Messages: This book teaches the values of teamwork in hard times and a friend, even when you think you may not need one, can make a world of difference.

Role Models: The main character, Katniss, is an amazing role model. She is a strong woman, and would do anything to protect the people she loves. In the very beginning of the book, she hunts outside the bounds of her district (District 12). In the books, this IS illegal but this isn't promoting crime. It's showing that she'd risk her life for her family. (She lives in the poorer part of her district) Another example is when her younger sister Prim[rose] gets chosen for the Hunger Games, she volunteers so Prim isn't in danger.

Educational Value: This book shows the consequences of having a power hungry or overly controlling government or a dictatorship. This book takes place in the future in the United States. The phrase "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it" I feel really holds true to this series, except it goes for the future. Especially in these times where the government is taking away our right of movement during the Coronavirus. It shows how dangerous a government like that can be.

You as parents should be the judge of this book, but I read this book series not too long ago, and it was very entertaining. These books are also very sad because Collins did such a great job with this book and characters and they felt so real. This book is amazing and I'd definitely recommend it, but for audiences over middle school.

Sorry for the rant, but I hope you find this review useful.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byValentina z February 16, 2019

Should you read it?

This book may contain violence but it's fine for kids that can handle it. There are some drinking parts, their mentor throws up on the carpet, but other than that it's fine. In an interview, a girl is described as sexy but it isn't inappropriate. For the people that say there's a bad message they probably didn't even read the book. The real message is that if you stand up against people, you might make the world a better place. This is appropriate for kids. I read this when I was 10 and I don't have nightmares. It's absurd how parents think it's not good for kids. They're going to read it anyways. So stop babying your children and worry about your own problems.

This title contains:

Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Parent of a 6-year-old Written bykidkate April 24, 2011

Not as violent as you think

A book about kids fighting to the death-- the violence isn't as bad as you think. Yes, there is violence, but much of it is suspense and the actual killing isn't that rich in detail. It is really a book much more about survival and the injustices of a society that calls for these children to fight each other. Strong girl character takes her sister's place to spare her life. She finds the good in people who might be her enemies. Great book!
Adult Written bynew mommy April 6, 2011

Not for tweens

I think that most people will have a different view on this book because of the violence and different parents have different ideas for what their children should be exposed to. Our middle school 7-8 graders read this with a note home that needed to be signed for violence. In my view, if we need to do the letter home should we be thinking this is not school appropriate since it's not even real history? To put a game out there that children need to kill other children...I think we can do better than that for our kids. If my child was in the middle school and received that particular letter home I don't think I'd realize what it REALLY was when I read it since there weren't enough details about it. Maybe the letter should have said "kids killing kids for entertainment" (just those words twist my gut) and many parents wouldn't have signed it?? I just think there are better things we could be doing with our children...my point of view. Some children can play those terrible games and watch bad movies at home; others don't. I actually felt like I disobeyed the lord by wasting my time and actually getting cought up in the games myself as an adult enjoying the book! I felt guilty! I am not sure I see positive messages in this book because I got caught up with the negative/game part of the story more so. Very well written but not for a family raising their children with good Christian values is my opinion. Thanks.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Positive role models
Adult Written bykitty229 April 30, 2019

little violence and drinking

there was some violence but no gore. it is about kids killing each other but the author gets the deaths over quickly. another thing is that the main characters mentor(should i call him that) is drunk most of story so there is a load of drinking but other then that the book is awesome

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byUeet January 4, 2019

Amazing!!!!!

I have read all the books and they are my favs. There is no swearing what so ever but a lot of blood with (spoiler) mutts tearing people apart

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byOklahoma parent February 29, 2012

Hunger Games-not games for kids under age 13

Shame on Suzanne Collins for writing a book about teens (ages 12-18) killing each other in (often) bloody hand-to-hand combat in a large arena televised to every person in a country in future times. Not a book for middle schoolers (6th-8th grade). It’s for 13 year olds/older. Reading comprehension level is middle school. Actually, the book is exciting; you want to turn the next page--the problem is the content. Basically, it’s a book about teen gladiators. So what lessons are taught to readers? How to survive and some about teamwork. The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, uses her wits and bow/arrow hunting skills to stay alive by providing food/drink for herself and fellow district companion, Peeta Mellark. Yes, she shows humaneness to two others in the arena in several scenes but so what? It’s long on “kill or be killed” and short on other human qualities. Tell us, Ms. Collins, why did you write a book about teens, not adults, killing each other, as gladiators did? Is it because the market for teen bought books and movies is strong? To be first to write this genre? This isn’t a dragons/warlocks/castles fantasy book; it’s gritty, realistic book that pits realistically built children characters, set in realistic settings, against each other. Yes, Ms. Collins, your wasted your considerable writing talents aiming to collect the almighty buck and fame. Meanwhile, parents like me who care about what our kids read, again defend ourselves against exciting books that aren’t age appropriate for younger than 13 year olds. Thanks for nothing. My 11 year old won’t be reading the book or seeing the (we anticipate) PG-13 movie until he’s 13. BTW, I checked out the book from the public library; didn’t support your royalty.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written byh.bloomenthal August 24, 2020

Brutal, violent, disturbing

But also very well written. If your kid is at all sensitive, take good care or read it with her/him. Avoid night time reading with this one!!!

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult Written bydavidemitch August 18, 2020

Perfect bedtime story for little ones!

Seriously, this book is about as violent as any marvel movie so I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. Parents are seriously saying 17-years old or older to ready this book, that's ridiculous! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your kid is probably already having sex by that age or watching porn. I read Handmaid's Tale, Lord of the Flies, and Ender's Game as required reading in High School when I was 14-years old. Helicopter parenting is more danger to your child's development than any book.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Adult Written bySaisantosh .. August 6, 2020

The best

Not good for ages below 14
Because of too much violence

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written byJames Hedrick July 4, 2020

Distopian Nightmare or Uplifting Tale of Courage?

Suzanne Collins dystopian trilogy is without question a masterful piece of storytelling and character development. The world of Panem is well crafted and enveloping and the characters real and authentic. If I have one gripe about the series as a whole it is the intended "target" audience. There is as much here for adults as for the intended 12-25 year old audience. In fact I do not recommend these to anyone under sixteen, and older in some cases. The whole premise of a technologically advanced futuristic society throwing children into an arena to slaughter each other as a reality tv show is frankly quite adult and disturbing. The series asks some deep complex questions about the darker side of human nature and the value of human life. There are fine character role models to be had as both Katnis, Peeta and even Haymich (my favorite character) perform numerous acts of selfless compassion for each other and the story can at times be very uplifting as it demonstrates how humans survive trying times by caring for each other. The violence can also be harrowing at times, which I personally enjoy but kids should not be exposed to at too young an age. I give this series my full endorsement as reader and enthusiast. However anyone sensitive to violence or dark psychological content should be looking for something else to read.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness

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