Parenting dilemma: Hunger Games too much for kids?


Hey, blog friends. I received the following question from a concerned mother related to the popular book trilogy and movie (releases tonight), The Hunger Games:

I wanted to get your opinion on The Hunger Games. My daughter is feeling peer pressure because many of her 6th grade friends are going to see it. They are teasing her because her father & I feel it is not appropriate. Several schools in our area are taking their 7th & 8th graders to see it on a field trip. So far this is a NO for us looking for a YES this weekend to replace it.

I thought I would toss it up on the blog and let you weigh in on the topic. Honestly, I’m not familiar enough with the books and don’t feel qualified to answer her question. However, both my oldest children (ages 23 and 21) have read the books and will be seeing the movie this evening. It’s pretty much all they talk about lately, so suffice it to say, they are huge fans. I realize this is a pretty big topic right now and noticed that FoxNews.com is featuring an article on their homepage entitled, “Parent’s wrestle with whether or not to let young kids see hunger games.” Click here to read the article.

As parents, it’s so hard to figure out the Colossians 3:21 balance when it comes to parenting. If you’re not familiar with the verse, it says:

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

I’ve written at length on the challenge parents face in being “protectors” of their children without becoming “provokers.” In fact, when I took a closer look at the original Greek words for “provoke” and “discouraged,” I found the meaning of “provoke” is “to stir up” and the meaning of “discouraged” is “to be disheartened or broken in spirit.” In my 5 Conversations books, I wrote that parents who say “no” to too much, run the risk of leaving their child “broken in spirit.” But on the flip-side, we are also called to protect our children from harmful influences. That said, is this a battle worth fighting?

If you have kids and are familiar with The Hunger Games, weigh in and let us know what your opinion is on the matter. Are you allowing your children to see the movie and/or read the books and if so, what are their ages? If your children are wanting to see the movie and/or read the books and you are not allowing it, how are you handling it in your home? (Oh, and this goes without saying, but let’s play nice and respect the different parenting perspectives that will be offered on this topic. Thanks, in advance!)

 

Comments

  1. Valerie Carson says:

    Mine are seeing it, and so am I. They were both required to read it in 8th grade, so I read the series with them. (btw: so did my mom!) Loved it- had some deep conversations about the characters and their decisions. My kids are 14 and 15. I don’t think I’d allow them to see it younger than 14 though. I’ve stood my ground on many other movies– Twilight being one. THankfully neither of mine wanted to see that series, though, so it wasn’t that hard to say no.

  2. stephanie says:

    I have read these books, as has my mother in law, both daughters ages 20 & 14. Several nieces & most of my friends. Victoria my youngest daughter was required to read it this year (9th grade). I don’t see why their would be a problem. If anything it is a reminder to me of how bad things could get. So sad! I have even read on the author site how she came up with the concept. This is not a “paranormal” book. So I am curious what someones problem with it would be. We will all be seeing this movie this weekend. Thanks.

  3. My 16-year-old has read the first book and will read the others when she isn’t snowed under with school work. She will see the movie tomorrow.

    Where we took the hard stand was not allowing her to go to the midnight release on a school night. Especially 3 days after returning from an international mission trip. I’ve been astounded at how many of her friends and even kids younger went to that midnight showing last night.

  4. Kristine Lewis says:

    A bone to throw younger readers, who probably will find the Hunger Games too dark, is Suzanne Collins’ first series. The UnderLand Chronicles (Gregor the Overlander is the first) are fantastic, sort of a modern take on Alice in Wonderland. They are full of adventure without the violence of the Hunger Games. My daughter loved them from age 7, and the whole family enjoyed them. Few seem to be aware of these books, but they are readily available at the chain stores.

    At 14, my daughter will see the HG movie this weekend, but I probably wouldn’t have allowed it much younger.

  5. Jessica says:

    First let me say that i do not have children, but i work with the teens in our youth group at church. So this is something I have been putting some thought into. And at 28 i really enjoyed the books and the movie (saw the midnight showing last night). There are lots of thought provoking themes throughout the book…many themes that are in literature throughout history. And my freshman girls group will be getting together this weekend to discuss the book/movie to make sure they are thinking through these themes and not just mindlessly consuming this media.

    With that being said, this isn’t a movie for all ages to see. I don’t think there is a cut off age as to what’s appropriate as much as it’s about the maturity level of a kid. But I would say if they haven’t read the books, they shouldn’t see the movie…they aren’t prepared. I read a good article today called “Why I’m NOT Taking My 8-Year Old To The Hunger Games” and I’d like to give you a couple quotes from the article that I thought were good guidance.

    “Start with Collins’s standards. Your kid shouldn’t be there if they aren’t old enough to be chosen by lottery for the annual Hunger Games (12). Better yet, take the advice of the MPAA, which restricts anyone under 13 from attending without an adult. As a parent, make the call they shouldn’t go if they haven’t read the books. Just hearing about them isn’t preparation enough for what’s on screen. If they aren’t advanced as readers enough to read them on their own, there’s no debate, just skip it altogether. Wait until they come to the novels with the skill set to tackle them.”

    The next two quotes i’m going to share is true for any media we watch:

    “But even though the movie is milder, reading and watching a screen are very different ways of obtaining information, one active, one passive. Reading is perhaps the most intimate act of intellectual self-exploration. We make choices as we read; do we linger and imagine those dogs, gnawing at a human now a “raw hunk of meat” or do we race on to the next adventure? We can put the book aside and return to it when we feel ready…”

    and

    “While reading is an act of self-determination, being taken to a movie the ratings board says you aren’t allowed into on your own is ultimately someone else’s choice, no matter how hard you have begged to go. A movie, which comes at you through the one-two punch of sight and sound, leaves less room for escape. There are the hands to hide behind, the bathroom to visit, but because the film will end in a finite time not of your choosing, it is also more likely to pressure you into staying within its embrace.”

    The idea that a movie is much more in your face and fast paced would be a determination for me. The book allows you to think through the themes. But we tend to consume movies mindlessly and too open-minded.

    Here is the link to the article if you want to read it:
    http://ideas.time.com/2012/03/22/why-im-not-taking-my-8-year-old-to-the-hunger-games/#ixzz1pxo9lg4H

  6. Tammy says:

    I read these books at first because the 9th grade girls in my small group at church were reading them. Since then, my three older children ( ages 20, 17, & 13) have all read at least the first book in the series. My 9 year old, who is a very good reader has asked to read them, and I told him he needs to wait a few years. He is also not allowed to see the movie at this point. He is not very happy with me, but I am ok with that. The rest of us will see the movie in the coming weeks.
    The story is certainly very violent, but I believe there are some redeeming themes and interesting discussions to be had if I am intentional.
    For younger kids though, I am concerned that the plot with the corrupt government and the masses of people who are interested only in their own pleasure and comfort would be lost and all they would come away with is a terribly violent story.

  7. I read the entire trilogy. I am a mother of a 4,5,and 7 year old and honestly I was a bit shocked that it was a Young Adult Fiction. If my kids were teenagers I may let them see it. But as for kids under 15 I don’t think so. My only reason would be the gore and if they did see it I would want to be with them so that we could have a good discussion after it. But I found the books so good and made me think a lot and caused great discussions about moral dilemmas. I am kind of glad that my kids aren’t old enough to care about it, as for other parents, just pray that they make a good decision for their family and follow up with their kids on their thoughts!

  8. I’m the mom of an 11 year old 6th grader who read the Hunger Games series before all the hype. I was nervous about her seeing the movie before I pre-screened it simply because I was unsure of what extra worldly content might be added. I knew the books’ content was intense, but the protagonist characters are typically honorable and truly are making the best of the horrible situation in which they are placed.

    I told my daughter recently that the characters in her books are very much like peers, and that she should no more read about a character with low moral standing as she should allow herself to be involved with them in her real life. I believe the characters in the Hunger Games are of decent moral standing but are placed in rotten circumstances. I think there are several teachable moments throughout the movie.

    Pluggedin.com’s movie review of The Hunger Games is, in my opinion, very accurate and thorough.

    http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/hunger-games.aspx

  9. http://www.pluggedin.ca/movies/intheaters/hunger-games.aspx
    I found this review very helpful. Hope it helps.

  10. Tamra says:

    I do not think that a 6th grader is old enough to read the books or see the movie. I read them, as a 32 year old, and loved all 3. They are super creative and full of imagination, yet can get very violent. Too much so for anyone under 13, 14 if you ask me. My daughter has wanted to read them also, and we have had to tell her no. It doesn’t hurt them to wait a couple of years. The books aren’t going anywhere :)

  11. Neither my 14 year old daughter nor I have read the books. She has friends that have, and she has expressed curiosity, but we’ve talked about whether it might be too disturbing. From my research, I think all the killing would really bother me, and my daughter shares my sensitivity. Ultimately I will leave the decision to read the books up to her. (She doesn’t even want to read the last one. A friend told her it is quite disturbing and dark.) We won’t be seeing the movie in theaters, but eventually, if she wants to see it, we could watch it at home.

    Her 12 year old sister has expressed no interest in the books or the movie.

  12. Brandi Sutherland says:

    My teenage daughters and I have all read the book. Here are the only issues I had for younger readers. It was biolent. I mean really…the kids kill other kids in order to survive themselves. Some dies very brutal deaths. The second and stronger issue for me is a “love” story between two teenagers. We are not a “dating” family but that theme goes along with what most of the world (movies, tv, schools)is doing today. Really that is not a big issue for most families but it is for us. I will say though….I LOVED the books and went to the midnight premier last night with my girls and my 10 year old son. He has not read the books but he liked the movie. There was violence but I didnt think much more than in other “super hero” movies we have been OK with him watching. We really liked the movies and even talked all the way home about the book/movie comparisons. The movie had a few mild curses where the book didn’t but all-in-all I was not disappointed with either.

  13. Sarah McDonnell says:

    I read all 3 books & am a mom of 2 younger kiddos. I think if my kids were school age right now I might hesitate to let them see it…Not because it has anything horrible in it but because the books were at times VERY dark & depressing & I wonder how Hollywood will interpret that.

  14. We have 3 sons, ages 18, 16, and 13, and 1 daughter 11. I read all 3 books, then encouraged the boys to read them. Because of their excitement about the books, my husband and parents read them, thus allowing for some very interesting conversations. We have not allowed the 11 yr. old girl, to read them. Although, she is mature and could probably handle the material, doesn’t mean she should. We are making her wait to read the books until she is 13. The movie was good, but I’ve seen much worse, if violence is an issue for you, don’t go. But as for movies today, there was no overtly or hardly any sexual content, and the language was not offensive. As a parent, only you can decide what is best for your child, not their friends, your friends, or anyone else. May the odds be ever in your favor!

  15. Personally, I loved the books and am planning to see the movie, but my 11-year-old has not read them because there’s more violence than I’m comfortable with for her. Fortunately for us, I don’t think any of her friends have read them either so she doesn’t really care about the movie — it’s not like it’s a big deal in her peer group that she feels like she’s missing out on.

  16. Heather says:

    When my 10-year-old asked to read the book, I decided to read it myself first. To make a long story short, I decided not to let her read it. I wasn’t comfortable allowing her to read a book that includes incredible violence – especially that between children. I actually loved the book, but it was so dark and violent, I just decided it wasn’t the right time for her to read it. She is now almost 12, and has been begging me for the past few weeks to see the movie (all of her friends are going to see it). I considered it because she is a wonderful, responsible, fairly mature kid, but ultimately decided the movie is a no-go for now. I just don’t think she has any idea how realistic those scenes will be, and I’d much rather her wait a bit before she is exposed to those kinds of images. It’s a lot to handle and process for young kids. I certainly see Vicki’s point on protection and provocation – it is an incredibly fine line in today’s world. My daughter is constantly being asked to see movies with her friends that we don’t feel are appropriate. It’s difficult when it seems like she is constantly having to tell them she can’t go.

  17. I truly appreciate this question. As a mother of three daughters, 10, 8 and 4 years of age I’m always cautious about what they watch on TV and read. My 10 year old, who is an avid reader, has been wanting to read the books and I have taken a stand not to let her. I haven’t read the books but have heard several co-workers talk about them. Even though they are “scholastic” books, I have a hard time allowing my 10 year old to read or watch something so depressing and violent. Maybe I’m too much of a protector. I appreciate everyone’s comments. Thanks for starting the discussion Vicki!

  18. J. Albritton says:

    I have read them & have older teens who
    have read them, but I would not think they are appropriate for younger than 13-14. I think the violence is too much.

  19. I have not read the books, but plan to. I have a 13 yr old daughter that is CONSTANTLY driving me crazy for good fiction. I allowed her to read these before I did, based on some friends opinions from church that I trusted. She finished the books and said “Mom, these people had no hope”. I was surprised at her reaction because while reading them she could not put them down. It gave us an opportunity to have a great conversation about christian fiction vs secular, and making good choices when feeding your mind. She is not going to see the movie this weekend, she made a choice to do something else. Teenagers, go figure?

    I have bought her the Lisa T Bergren, River of Time Series….its really good!

  20. Jennifer G says:

    I agree with most of moms here- when the books first came out a few years ago, I wouldn’t let my daughter, then 11, read them. At 13 the books came up again and with her being much more able to handle the content, we read them together – and that was a lot of fun! My husband, who usually only reads prophetic fiction or anything with the word “sports” in it read them too and they have had a lot of fun talking about it! We just saw the movie a little while ago, I would say that reading the book first was a great thing for us – it’s tastefully done for a story about killing and the shots are so quick that images don’t linger. I have to say the director took care not to take liberty of making it grotesque for the sake of sensationalizing it- it stood on its own. I was shocked however, by the huge number of 8,9, &10 year olds that were there. I have a 9 year old daughter that will be waiting until 13 to see this. ( the worst part was probably the commercials before the movie- I had to ask my daughter to look away— ugh!!!)

  21. I agree with the PG-13 rating. I have read the book and look foward to the movie. I have a daughter that will turn 13 next week. Although she is not at all interested, I would let her go if she wanted to. And…remember “Lord of the Flies”?

  22. steph says:

    Here’s a movie review from Focus on the Family. http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/hunger-games.aspx

  23. MTMOM1 says:

    I’m the mom of 3rd and 6th grade girls. My 6th grader wanted to read the books because all her friends were and i let her. She had read the other Suzanne Collins books and is not a bi reader but read the 1st book voraciously – what parent doesn’t want that! My 3rd grader is not allowed to read the book or watch the movie and won’t until she is older. I believe it is though, as many others have said, a great conversation starter on many topics. For a child mature enough to have these type of discussions. Focus on the family has a great list of questions that help kids or anyone run this story through a Christian filter. To me that is a very important life lesson. Here is the link. http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/protecting_your_family/book-reviews/h/hunger-games.as

  24. shannon denham says:

    yep my 13 and 14 yr olds read the series and went to the premier, but only because they are straight a students with the understanding they would still have to get up and go to school and they went with good friends that i trusted and their 20 yr old sister. i think you have to know your kids and what they can handle. i know one who couldn’t watch peter pan the cartoon for yrs because she was obsessed with fairies and had a blurred sense of reality so you have to know your kids. its not a one size fits all and thats having 3 girls and a 6 yr old boy

  25. Paige says:

    I haven’t read the Hunger Games, and so we won’t seeing it this weekend (and won’t anytime in the near future). My daughters are 12 and not quite 10. Hunger Games is being shown in about 4000 theaters this weekend.

    Did you know there’s an alternative to get excited about? There is another movie premiering today called October Baby. It’s being released by Provident Films and will show in not quite 300 theaters this weekend. It has so many wonderful messages woven into the movie, and the more it’s supported this opening weekend, the more likely that other communities will have a chance to see it! The main story line is about a 19 year old who is trying to find out more about her birth. She discovers that she is an abortion survivor and sets out on a journey to find out why. It’s rated PG-13. Go to http://www.octoberbabymovie.net/ and watch the trailers and see if it’s a better option to support this weekend! It’s a message of God’s healing for post-abortive women. It’s a message of hope for parents trying to guide teens in today’s world. It’s a message of affirmation to adoptive parents. It’s a beautiful picture of friendship. Check it out!

  26. Diana says:

    My seventeen year old daughter started the series a few months ago and enjoyed it very much. I don’t read much fiction, but I try to read whatever she is reading and I was hooked by the first chapter–in fact, I read the entire series in 34 hours…no I didn’t accomplish anything else that weekend. The violence is a bit surreal in the reading, but I’m sure that it will be quite powerful in the watching. While I think the book is thought-provoking and a great discussion starter with my older teen regarding personal sacrifice, government, politics, and reality television (just to name a few topics), I do not think a younger child and certainly not a grade school child should see the movie without their parents being sure they can process the story correctly. So, are we going to see the movie–YES, as soon as we can get tickets. We have been looking forward to this for months. However, if my child were younger, I’d have to give it some serious thought first.

  27. Alicia says:

    My 9 year old has not read the book, nor will she for a while yet. However, all of her fellow fourth-graders seem to be racing to get the book read so they can see the movie. I have not read it yet, but I plan to this summer.
    My concern is that many parents do not seem to be wrestling with the issue stated above at all—that fine line between guiding/protecting children and exasperating them. Too many are willing to just say yes to everything and anything without being the parent and actually checking it out first.

  28. Esther says:

    I’m thankful that there has been so much discussion around topics related to the book/movie…and also extended ‘themes’ that can provide positive opportunities for thought-provoking dialogue with our kids.

    We, too, spent several hours talking to friends, reading preliminary reviews, talking to our 14 year old daughter about “Why or why not?”, etc. In our small town, there’s a fair amount of peer pressure when these type of situations arise…so friends of ours with younger kids are finding themselves having to have THAT conversation with their kids! “Just because your friends are watching it…” – whew!

    Anyway, our daughter is presently standing in line for the early evening showing at our community movie theater. With her is a 15 year old ‘big brother’ friend who will report accurately about the movie content. Our biggest concern is always the difference between the ‘visual’ portrayal vs. what the reader’s imagination ‘fills in’ when violence is depicted in print. Frankly, if our daughter has even one nightmare over the next week, she probably won’t be seeing any similar movies again anytime soon! She has insisted that she can handle the violent content, but if Plugged In had rated it differently, she wouldn’t be seeing it. That’s our ‘gold standard’ (along with Common Sense Media…which did give it a 4 out of 5 for violence, and suggested parental caution for anyone under age 16).

    Thanks for opening up the dialogue, Vicki!

  29. Elizabeth says:

    I have not read the book or seen the movie, but I have a 13-year-old daughter who was originally interested. She put down the book after starting it. When everyone went to see the movie, we went on a fun shopping day. :) She was thrilled. I agree with someone else who said it will not hurt them to wait. The book sounds like it might be fine for high schoolers, but not middle schoolers. We are not living in a culture that loves Christ. I am sad that Christians are so easily fooled by Hollywood. The movie was surely carefully filmed so they could get the universal PG-13 rating. The lessons learned from this movie can easily be learned another way. I hold fast to the idea of very little exposure to violence, so that our children will be shocked by the real thing, and have compassion for victims. Others are so desensitized to it! We are to be light in this world…in the world but not of it. Exposing kids to evil is not the way to teach lessons of love.

  30. Debbie says:

    My daughter has read the books (14 years old) and her opinion of them is that the killing is not put in a positive view, but rather that it is evil vs. good, the evil being what they are forced to do. I’m sure we’ll end up seeing it in the next week or two – can’t say I’m excited to see it, but feel my daughter is old enough. I do have great concerns about the hype, and parents who struggle to decipher what really is good and beneficial for their kids, and have some age requirements (old enough to be able to chew on these issues). Sometimes we just need to do our best to explain to our kids why we feel it’s not appropriate and let our “no” be “no”. Tough days for us, navigating cell phones, texting, the internet, Facebook and movies. Here’s another great article: http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/19336

  31. Heidi says:

    my kids are 12.5 & 14.5 and they both read the books the summer before their 6th grade years. I read them, too, and found that our family discussions were really great regarding government (they studied various forms in 6th grade) t.v. (we don’t watch it at all during the week, and have a t.v.-free summer every summer, since they were 2 & 4 yrs old)family, bravery, and love. My oldest just saw the movie with friends, and I’m going with my younger child tomorrow, so that we can talk through things again. It’s definitely not for everyone, and it’s not a happy-go-lucky story, but I’d rather help my kids navigate the world when they are curious about books & movies (not drugs, alcohol, sqx, etc!!) than just tell them they can’t read/see something.

  32. I took my 14 year-old daughter and 12 year-old twin boys to see it today. I have read all three books and one of my sons has read the first.

    In my opinion, you have to make the decision based on your own child. Unlike the Twilight saga, these stories are upsetting because of the reality of the situation and the boy/girl relationships are very secondary to the story. I was open to having my kids read Twilight with the intent to talk to them about it, but they never showed an interst.

    For us, seeing The Hunger Games brought about some great dialogue on why a government would ever have something like The Hunger Games and how what our society calls “reality TV” has nothing to do with reality at all.

    I thought the filmmakers did a good job of keeping the more intense parts realistic without being too gory. And the rating is PG-13 which I thought was appropriate.

    I wrote a blog about it that gives more detail. http://www.laramvanhulzen.com/the-hunger-games-my-thoughts-and-review/

  33. Stephenie says:

    My 12 year old daughter is now on the last book in the series. I have read the series as well. We both loved the books. That being said, I’m not sure about taking her to the movie. She wants to go. I’m not sure how she would handle the violence, though. It’s one thing to read it, and another to see it play out on the screen. I’m leaning heavily toward waiting for the DVD release.

  34. http://onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=1562670

    Warning issued re: violence of ‘Hunger Games’

    Charlie Butts – OneNewsNow – 3/23/2012 4:35:00 AM

    A psychologist and author is concerned about how children will be affected by The Hunger Games, which opens in theaters nationwide today.

    The first installment of Susan Collins’ trilogy The Hunger Games is rated PG-13. The plot involves a government-sponsored reality TV show that forces children to fight each other to the death — the ultimate winner being the last one standing. Secular film critics are giving it high marks for accurately capturing the novel and making the narrative “perfectly understandable.”

    But Dr. Brenda Hunter, co-author of From Santa to Sexting, warns the movie is really a story about child sacrifice. According to Hunter, the adults portrayed in the story are either impotent or voyeuristic and watch as children kill each other. Parents, she says, should be concerned.

    “Their kids are being desensitized to violence,” she says in warning parents about allowing their youngsters to view the anticipated blockbuster. “… There are over a thousand studies linking media violence to aggressive behavior in some children. Think of that — a thousand studies linking this.”

    And once desensitized, she says, the children are no longer afraid or revolted by what they see. Hunter says “that begins to erode their God-given sense of humanity” — a deterioration that remains with them as they become adults.

    The psychologist goes on to say that what has happened in modern culture is that parental protections that were in place a few decades ago are gone.

    “And there’s a new philosophy that parents and adults seem to have in this culture,” she explains. “And it is: Let’s expose kids to everything. Let’s expose them to sex. Let’s expose them to violence — and they’ll be the better for it.”

    Not true, according to Dr. Hunter, who says the culture needs to change and parents need to learn to say no. Her recommendation: Don’t let children go see The Hunger Games.

    Read review of The Hunger Games from Focus on the Family’s ‘Plugged In’

  35. Molly says:

    I guess I’ll be the contrarian here (: I allowed both my daughters (ages 12 and 10) to read the books. I read them first and thought them appropriate. They loved them, as did I!

    Today we saw the movie and honestly, it was less violent than what I imagined it would be. The death scenes aren’t done in a glorifying way, the camera is purposely jerky and shaky so as to detract from that.

    My kids have read Homer’s Iliad and I don’t truly see the difference in having let them read the Hunger Games. We’ve also studied Roman history together and have talked about the gladiator games as well which is quite similar to the Hunger Games (and that was real!).

    Overall, it provoked a lot of thoughtful conversation. They recognized that the actual hunger games are a terrible thing and found the two main characters to be noble and honorable. We’ll most likely see it again sometime soon, it was that good!

  36. I recently read the first book with my 11-year-old, sixth-grade daughter. And, today, we saw the movie together. I strongly feel that too many “nos” creates resentment and even rebellion in children. I have seen it happen again and again. Christian homes that deny their children any worldly interaction and then, as soon as the children hit college, they get tatooes, nose piercings and push the envelope every way they can. Just because they can. Balance is the key here. We intentionally read the book and watched the movie TOGETHER, so we could discuss anything confusing or questionable. It made her feel respected, that her opinion counted. Not to mention that she was able to share something with her peers at a time when peer pressure is great. You really do have to pick your battles!

  37. Scott says:

    I was a youth pastor for 17 years and now a father of three girls and a missionary/pastor in Japan. It doesn’t really matter what movie it is, each thing that we allow our kids to listen to or watch needs to be reviewed. Yes, it takes a great deal of time, but isn’t that hard with so many websites that review music and movies. I no longer rely on the Christian review sites. That may sound strange, but I have found most of them are more opinion than a straight review. There is only one website I know of that just gives you the facts without opinion. http://www.kids-in-mind.com/ Here is what I do, read the review and pray about what I ‘feed’ my girls. One last thought is to never be swayed by what is popular. The pressure from others can be intense, but it is possible to have happy kids and not do/watch/listen to what everyone else is. I have no opinion yet on the Hunger Games, it takes a while for American movies to get here. :)

  38. Catherine says:

    We have one daughter who is 13 years old and NEVER reads anything, but we read the first book together and then she read the next two books on her own, with us reading them also, then we discussed them. My husband, me and my daughter LOVED the books. I am sure that the movie will be sad and dark at times, but we are going to see it as a family in the morning. We can’t wait.

    The three of us sat together and had our own book club. We decided that the books really are showing us where we are headed. At this point we watch Youtube video’s of people doing stupid things, AFV shows videos every week of people getting hurt and we sit and laugh at how stupid they are, tough men competitions, boxing, reality tv, car wrecks in Nascar and so on. We sit around and watch people emotionally get trampled on tv everyday. The Romans cheered as the gladiators were killed. How far are we really from watching people kill each other. I think that this series will open people’s eyes to the path we are on.

  39. My 16 year old daughter really likes this series. She can’t wait to see the movie. She read it about a month ago. I knew the movie was coming out so I had her read the book aloud to me and her 12 year old brother. We enjoyed the story but the violence was a little too much for us. He and I decided that we don’t want to see the movie. We agreed that because of the violence it could be rated R. She will see the movie next weekend. If he decides he wants to see the movie I will allow him to, and I will go with him.

  40. Angie says:

    When my 12 year old daughter told me that she read a book about children killing children, I was shocked. I read the book and was surprised at how well written it was. I saw parallels in the book to what could happen during the Tribulation period. My 12 year old and I discussed these scriptures and how I saw that they related to the book. The book of Revelation talks about famine and pestilence. The killers bees reminded of the stinging scorpions in Revelation. We have definitely grown cold in our society where people watch shows that depict killing and don’t seem to flinch just as the Capital inhabitants in the movie. Some people may see my view as a stretch but I actually had a chance to share my thoughts with a fellow parent at the Hunger Games movie tonight. He was so curious that he said he was going to go home and read Revelation. He also mentioned that he wasn’t very familiar with the Bible. After seeing the movie, my 9 year old will not be allowed to watch it. Any child seeing the movie should read the book first and need to be mature enough to understand the themes presented.

  41. Jessica says:

    They are fairly violent ( I actually think the movie was less violent than the books!). So that I think has to a be a kid by kid decision- my daughter is way too sensitive to that kind of stuff, but I know other kids who wouldn’t take it to heart- they wouldn’t think twice about it.

    One thing I will say about them (esp. vs Twilight) is that it can open up a lot of good conversations about being a part of something bigger than yourself and looking beyond what you want in the moment to work for a greater goal. Obviously as a Christian, you want to emphasis that we want to work for God’s goals, not our own but I still think it is a great example of selflessness in a culture obsessed with ME ME ME.

    They each approach it in a different way, much like as Christians we are called to serve Christ in different ways.

    The Capitol enslaves and devalues the districts through fear and humiliation much Satan can do to us.

    I think unless you have kids who are really upset by violence, there is a lot of good fodder for conversation!

    As far as the love story part, I also think that is handled fairly well. It isn’t perfect, but they are fairly respectful of each other and don’t get into the obsessive kind of love you see in so many teenage movies/book. It can also lead to conversations about being careful about not giving yourself way to “movie” love. Her relationship with Gale is real and so is her relationship with Peeta. By not having a “twilight” style romance with either one, she grows and ages and realizes who is right for her. It doesn’t sell the idea that you give in to your immediate passion/lust/magical love because as you grow you may realize that isn’t what you really need or want.

    Like I said, it certainly isn’t an allegory or a Christian movie, but I think there are LOTS of themes that can lend themselves to great conversation!

  42. Cindy says:

    My daughters (14 & 16) have read the books and saw the movie tonight. Both thought the movie was well done. They knew going into the movie that it would be violent, and it was. I asked them if they thought younger kids should see the movie,,and they both said, “absolutely not…it would totally freak them out!”.

  43. Claire says:

    I am taking my eleven-year-old daughter to see the Hunger Games tommorrow because her fifth grade teacher sent an email to the families on Monday about the movie. I don’t want her feeling left out and I also would rather watch with her and be there to talk about it than have her overhear dozens of conversations about it at school. She checked out the first book from the class library about a month ago and turned it back in after the first chapter because she enjoys other books so much more. I’ve done a bit of research on it and am sure I will be displeased with some of the violence and mass consciousness within it. In a post-apocolypic North America I have no doubt we will be rejoicing with the saints and angels in Heaven.

  44. Maritza says:

    My 12 year old 6th grader read the Hunger Games a few months ago when she borrowed them from the girl that we carpool with. Normally I screen books before she reads them and since the other girl is a Pastor’s kid, I just assumed they were ok reading. Then I started hearing the conversation in the backseat during carpools. At first, I was disturbed that the girls thought there was too much violence in them. Then I was happy to hear what they thought about that violence and the deep, meaningful conversations they had about the central themes and characters. I was so intrigued that I myself started reading the books and have surprisingly enjoyed them! I’ve said NO to other movies and books such as Twilight but I feel that these stories have some redemptive subject matter and are potentially good conversation starters. I encourage other parents to read the books if they have any qualms about it or the movie. I would also make it mandatory to read the books before seeing the movie for my child.

  45. I have 3 children 14, 12 and 10 and I believe that it completely depends on the maturity of your child if you should let them read the books and see the movie. I just returned from taking my 14 year old and 7 of her friends(8th graders) to see the movie and they had all read the book, including myself. I thought the book and movie were well done. Yes, it is violent, but it is fiction. It teaches some valuable lessons and thought provoking themes.Our children (hopefully) read and study in school about the holocaust, WWI and WWII, all of which are horrific stories, but true. I really believe that if you are concerned about the book/movie then you must read and see it for yourself and then make the decision on your child’s maturity level. Good luck!

  46. My daughter’s school took 6th, 7th, and 8th graders with parental permissions today. Gratefully my daughter didn’t want to go. She’s in 6th grade and I wouldn’t have let her at this age anyway. I didn’t know anything about the books or movie until a week ago. I saw the trailer last weekend and didn’t like the premise of the movie myself. I don’t think I want to see it. My daughter can when she’s much older if she wants to. My husband really wants to see it. Thank you, Kristine, for telling us about the other books Suzanne has written. We will be looking at Gregor the Overlander. They have it at the library here and it looks good. Much more age appropriate for my 12 year old.

  47. Tricia says:

    I and my 11 year old son read the book and saw the movie. Compared to any superhero movies it was just about the same. We had very good discussions about the book and movie on the way home. I checked plugged in movie reviews before I took him and there was no sexual content (there was a very short peck of a kiss). He is under alot of pressure at school to play all the violent video games and we will not budge on our “no” for those. The Colossians 3:21 verse really helped in our decision because we really want to pick our battles wisely. I was impressed with Hollywood and how they did not develop the relationship between peeta and katniss because they could have and I am glad they didn’t. I don’t have any regrets in letting my son see it but you just have to know your own child.

  48. laurie says:

    My husband and my 15 year son will be seeing it, but not my girls ages 12 and 9. Even though my 12 year old asked to see it, I reminded her that she was scared after seeing Mysterious Island, so action & adventure just isn’t her cup of tea right now and I think she just wanted to see it because everyone in her middle school is talking about it. I heard a Plugged In review on the radio yesterday and totally agree that parents need to watch the movie with their kids, but even the elementary school is saying that it’s more appropriate at the middle school level and older.

  49. Michelle says:

    I’m a huge advocate of knowing what my kids are reading, and I frequently pre-read books that I have questions about. Fortunately I’m a fast reader, but they’ve learned to wait (mostly) patiently. That also gives me a basis for conversation about the book as they read it.

    After I pre-read Book 1, I asked my facebook friends to tell me what they thought was good about the book. Nobody could say anything GOOD, other than “I really liked it and I couldn’t put it down.”

    I decided to not let my 12-year old read it, but I was fine with the 17-year old.

    About the difference between reading a book and watching a movie–with a book, the reader can somewhat block images or sort of protect himself from the worst. With a movie, the images are there in full color and they get burned into the brain. You can’t block them. I’ve let my 12-year old read Harry Potter, but it’s still going to be quite awhile before he watches the movies.

  50. This topic is obviously going to be a “per parent/family” decision, but I’ll share mine. I live overseas and didn’t catch on to the hype until several weeks ago. I asked some friends in the USA about the whole Hunger Games hype and – other than the killing/death issues – the drama/action theme sounded like the types of books my daughter likes to read. I bought the books with the intention of reading them with her (together…at the same time)…but she got ahead of me due to my schedule as a mom. After getting through book 1 and part way through book 2, I wished I wouldn’t have let her read the first two books without us having read them together or her not having read them at all. I just wasn’t comfortable with the descriptiveness that was detailed in relation to thoughts, romance and violence (and my daughter has seen other PG-13 movies). My decision to not let my daughter see the movie was related to the challenges she’s faced in 6th grade as a 12 year old and my desire to not have the books/movie influence that behavior any further. Honestly, as a parent, I take full responsiblity for starting the hype in our home, turning her on to it and then realizing along the way that I had created a monster (the obsessiveness with the books, the constant talk of the characters, the anticipation of the movie coming out, etc.). But, I had to do the hard thing as a parent and decide “after the book readings” that the movie would not be appropriate for her. I even apologized for setting her up for such disappointment…but it was a lesson learned for me as a parent…regardless of how discouraging it was for her as a child. I saw the movie today and the romance (the kissing, the sleeping together (i.e. physically laying next to each other. etc.) was completely downplayed and was more forced than natural. The violence lived up to what I thought it would. However, my decision about my daughter seeing the movie was made before I saw it myself and I did not change my mind after the fact. The political themes in the books/movie were phenomenal and there are so many great conversations that can be had about all of those themes/topics. However, what I had to ask myself as a parent was, “Has my daughter displayed the maturity and responsiblity this year to be able to handle such deep and serious themes and topics?”…and that answer was “no” for me.