Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Hunger Games in my home

My oldest children have a lot of self-education freedom, particularly when it comes to what they read. All four of them devoured "The Hunger Games" trilogy this spring/summer. They loved it. The girls were the first to tear through it, and then annoyed the boys until they finally caved.

I had downloaded Overdrive for my phone, and was sorely disappointed with my available choices for free downloads via my library. I did go ahead and reserve a few, which had very long waits. One, being "The Hunger Games." I had succumbed to the same fate as the boys. If I didn't read or listen to it soon, their berating was going to make me stark raving mad.

It became available this past week. We had a road trip to make and I was able to listen to the entire book in one weekend. I loved it.

And then, I sat in amazement. You see, it deals with some very (VERY) harsh themes:

utterly inhumane choices

survival and risk


control of an entire population

corporal punishment

restriction of resources and information

fear and mistrust

privilege and power


And I could go on! What has truly blown me away is that I cannot tell you when each child finished reading. These are all themes that trigger the pain in the history of my children, and I had no indication that they were even exposed to them.

They worked through this stuff completely on their own. They did it in a healthy way. I'm guessing this was CRAZY difficult for them, but they did it! They absorbed the difficulty and moved forward. They allowed themselves the entertainment and did not let the triggers take that away from them.

I'm sure they were a bit more crabby or sensitive on certain days. I was, too! You can't read some of this stuff without feeling it and internalizing it. It comes out at least SOME, with all of us. They felt it and absorbed it ... normally.

Reading is such a good, safe "practice ground" for the inevitability of life. I love that they can choose to expose themselves to the harsh realities (which reflects their own history), while still in the safety net of the present. They can think through scenarios and make decisions now, before they are facing life as an adult.

They're healing, dang it!


Unknown said...

I think you put it nicely that reading is nice safe practice ground for life. Agreed! My oldest had many struggles on his way to 14 and I think reading was not only his safe place but his source for information. (And so much more insightful about real human interactions than Disney channel tween shows.)

Should be interesting to see what he reads as he's starting high school.

Sarah said...

Love it! I had similar thoughts when I caved and read them. My son read them last year and pestered me to read them. When I did I could not believe how mature they were, how difficult it was for me to handle, and he had read it and been ok. And since he is usually a reluctant reader, and does not get through many books, I am now in the habit of reading EVERYTHING he reads so I at least know what is going into that head of his.

Amy said...

I read these this summer, and loved loved loved them. And boy, did they make me think hard about all of the pain and loss and relationships and other hard stuff that they contain. I was in a funk for weeks while I processed. Good for your kids. Healing is a beautiful thing.

Candis said...

I, too, read the series and loved it. My colleagues and I purchased a class set of the books for our students.
A female protagonist? Themes of subjugation, starvation, corruption, and vanity? How can these books fail to engage young people--all of us?
And the movie comes out in March!

BT said...

My RADling and I have worked our way through the trilogy by reading it aloud to each other, one book last summer, two this summer. We love it, but I too am amazed at the mature and possibly triggering themes in the story. P has dealt with those so well. In general, we have found the arts and particularly literature and music to be very therapeutic ways for him to be exposed to potential triggers. Not sure why, but it may be that the artistic expression fosters reflection and discussion.

Now P is nag nag nagging my husband to get through the trilogy. The first book kept M up late into the night the past two nights!

Dennis Nesser said...

Dang it Christine you cost me a nights sleep. Finally got to read the first book last night and couldn't put it down.

Then I find out one of the boys read the first in the series already. So now that connection.

But that has to be as good of a book as any I've read lately. Nothing in it was what I expected when I picked it up, and yet they did a good job of working through so many issues.

I'm looking forward to book 2! But dang I can not stay up till 2 am to finish this one. :)

Thanks for sharing