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October 20, 2010

The Hunger Game Series for Reluctant Teens

By Brent Vasicek
Grades 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Talk about building excitement and anticipation. I waited and waited for my pre-ordered copy of Mockingjay. It did not disappoint. I devoured this book within two days after receiving it. Yes, it was that good! 

    I have found this series more engaging than . . . Dare I say it? I must because it is true! . . . more engaging than Harry Potter. Students in 5th grade and up love this series, too. Especially, those boys who are reluctant readers or those girls who long for a strong female role model.

     

    Suzanne Collins does a terrific job in concluding The Hunger Games series with Mockingjay. It has the perfect balance of intrigue, action, tension, and thoughtfulness. In a way the series is all about trust and discovering what you truly believe. What teenager can't connect to those things on some level? This book had me engaged the entire time, as the end of each chapter is masterfully written to keep the reader hooked. The twist and the explanations at the end of the book were satisfying. No Scooby-Doo formulaic endings, and no "it was all just a dream" stuff, either. Just quality writing with an original story line. Definitely two thumbs up!

    I will warn you that with the first book in the series, I had to make a blind-faith investment of about 75 pages before I was truly into it. The second book, Catching Fire, was easy to jump into, as was the third.

    Hunger GamesCatching fire

    Thoughts on Classroom Applications

    For you reading teachers, this series could spark so many good discussions. I am left with many ethical questions about trust. Whom do you trust, and how do you know when to trust them? Is it okay to lie under certain circumstances? At what point is fighting for a cause not worth the death and destruction? Do the ends always justify the means? How many people truly live with integrity? In what situations does/should social class matter?

    Some of my 7th grade alumni, The Integrity Bros, enjoyed doing The Hunger Games as a book club during our monthly Integrity meetings.

    Even if you are not a reading teacher, you can find creative ways to incorporate The Hunger Games into your classroom. For you technology gurus, why not have your students develop a trailer for the book like this one posted on YouTube? If you are the home ec teacher, you could suggest that students create a cake that captures the essence of The Games after reading the book. Check out some impressive examples that would make even the Cake Boss salivate. Find more food-related lesson ideas posted by a fellow teacher on TeacherShare.

    Since our society seems to be enamored with reality television, this is the perfect series to get a reluctant reader hooked on reading. After all, it only takes one book to prove that reading can be an enjoyable activity. One of the first books that turned me into a reader was Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I bet many teens will be able to claim The Hunger Games series as the one that proved reading is not just a subject in school, but a gift of a lifetime. And, who knows, they may be inspired to read some of the dystopian novels on this booklist.

    What other books turn kids onto reading, in your experience? Has anyone else read this book? If so, comment below and give us your review.

    Satisfied reader,

    Brent Vasicek

    www.mrvasicek.com

    PS: For those of you who enjoy doing Webcasts and are looking for a November idea, Scholastic just put up a sign-up page for The First Thanksgiving Webcast. You might want to check it out.

    Talk about building excitement and anticipation. I waited and waited for my pre-ordered copy of Mockingjay. It did not disappoint. I devoured this book within two days after receiving it. Yes, it was that good! 

    I have found this series more engaging than . . . Dare I say it? I must because it is true! . . . more engaging than Harry Potter. Students in 5th grade and up love this series, too. Especially, those boys who are reluctant readers or those girls who long for a strong female role model.

     

    Suzanne Collins does a terrific job in concluding The Hunger Games series with Mockingjay. It has the perfect balance of intrigue, action, tension, and thoughtfulness. In a way the series is all about trust and discovering what you truly believe. What teenager can't connect to those things on some level? This book had me engaged the entire time, as the end of each chapter is masterfully written to keep the reader hooked. The twist and the explanations at the end of the book were satisfying. No Scooby-Doo formulaic endings, and no "it was all just a dream" stuff, either. Just quality writing with an original story line. Definitely two thumbs up!

    I will warn you that with the first book in the series, I had to make a blind-faith investment of about 75 pages before I was truly into it. The second book, Catching Fire, was easy to jump into, as was the third.

    Hunger GamesCatching fire

    Thoughts on Classroom Applications

    For you reading teachers, this series could spark so many good discussions. I am left with many ethical questions about trust. Whom do you trust, and how do you know when to trust them? Is it okay to lie under certain circumstances? At what point is fighting for a cause not worth the death and destruction? Do the ends always justify the means? How many people truly live with integrity? In what situations does/should social class matter?

    Some of my 7th grade alumni, The Integrity Bros, enjoyed doing The Hunger Games as a book club during our monthly Integrity meetings.

    Even if you are not a reading teacher, you can find creative ways to incorporate The Hunger Games into your classroom. For you technology gurus, why not have your students develop a trailer for the book like this one posted on YouTube? If you are the home ec teacher, you could suggest that students create a cake that captures the essence of The Games after reading the book. Check out some impressive examples that would make even the Cake Boss salivate. Find more food-related lesson ideas posted by a fellow teacher on TeacherShare.

    Since our society seems to be enamored with reality television, this is the perfect series to get a reluctant reader hooked on reading. After all, it only takes one book to prove that reading can be an enjoyable activity. One of the first books that turned me into a reader was Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I bet many teens will be able to claim The Hunger Games series as the one that proved reading is not just a subject in school, but a gift of a lifetime. And, who knows, they may be inspired to read some of the dystopian novels on this booklist.

    What other books turn kids onto reading, in your experience? Has anyone else read this book? If so, comment below and give us your review.

    Satisfied reader,

    Brent Vasicek

    www.mrvasicek.com

    PS: For those of you who enjoy doing Webcasts and are looking for a November idea, Scholastic just put up a sign-up page for The First Thanksgiving Webcast. You might want to check it out.

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