Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Life and Death Literature

Picture from this site

I read this incredible interview with Suzanne Collins today. It really moved me, reading about her personal experiences with a father away at war and a family life saturated with the history, stories, and relevance of war. It's an upbringing most of us don't have, but more of today's children are currently experiencing, as the wars just seem to multiply.

When I first read The Hunger Games, I was devastated by the violence, but loved the story. Even as much as I devoured it and praised it, I didn't recommend it for preteens because of the sometimes graphic depictions of blood and death. After reading Collins' interview, I better understand her philosophy about children and war. She wasn't writing bloody scenes to sensationalize battle or to sell more books. She wrote about the realities and consequences of war. She feels she is writing to a generation of children who, like her, are growing up without one or both parents while they fight abroad.

In “The Hunger Games” Collins embraces her father’s impulse to educate young people about the realities of war. “If we wait too long, what kind of expectation can we have?” she said. “We think we’re sheltering them, but what we’re doing is putting them at a disadvantage.”
I still believe most preteens would have trouble handling this series, maybe as much trouble as if their own families were torn apart by war. I still remember sneaking a peek at Braveheart with my brother while our parents were away, and the slitting of a girl's throat will always be in my very vivid and sensitive memory. BUT... But I can see the value in introducing children to the concept of war in a safe context, especially when the world around us is literally burning with rebellions, revolutions, and wars for power.

So here I'm apologizing to Suzanne Collins for loving her books with the caveat Not Appropriate for Children because clearly, it was for them she wrote this story.


  1. As much as i like the story, I totally agree with you!

  2. I was surprised when I read (somewhere?) that The Hunger Games was for Tween readers. I'm all for older teens reading it, but tween and under . . . not so much.


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