Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Media Games about "The Hunger Games"

So Annika and I have had some back and forth about "The Hunger Games."

The movie is out and media is all abuzz about the movie, the stars, the books, posters with Team Peeta. I saw a girl at the school wearing a t-shirt. So naturally, she wants to see the movie. No, it's PG-13.

"Ok, can I read the books? EVERYONE has read the books." I'm hesitant because this is a Young Adult series, and she's in 5th grade. Her argument was that this was Hollywood. Percy Jackson in the books is about 12, while in the movies, he's driving or something. I'm still not buying it. Just because you can read something, doesn't mean you need to read it. I haven't read these yet either. Now, is the time I have to put on my mom hat and stop the media from dictating what my child reads.

I checked online and the movie sites reviews for families frequently pointed out the violence; while it may not be graphic per se, it's still pretty violent theme and particular incidents. My sister said she was scared at certain times and the basic theme of children killing children is disturbing. I just saw a post somewhere else where the mom took a 10 year old and now has to have a discussion.

Definitely forget the movie.(Seriously, I'm not sure I want to watch this either!). I read the producers are worried because the 3rd book is extremely violent and they're not sure how to portray that. (Oh, curse you J K Rowlings for ending the biggest money making literary phenomena known to mankind!)

As for the books, I checked with one friend whose daughter is the same age, but an advanced reader. She said her teacher recommended it for her knowing her maturity level. I sent a note to Annika's teacher and school librarian. The teacher agreed with me and said it's not on the list of recommended books for the elementary school. The school librarian said she may recommend that book to 6th graders. However, she pointed out an alternative would be "Shadow Children" series.

I googled that and learned it's about a dystopia where children are in hiding because of population overgrowth and lack of resources. Apparently, it's a series and quite a fan favorite. That seemed just as depressing!

The only series I cared about in 5th and 6th grade was "Little House on the Prairie." However, I've learned quickly in the last few years that if I dare show her a book that I enjoyed as a child, she will invariably not be into it. The only exceptions being Judy Blume & Beverly Cleary books.I did like my share of depressed and struggling orphan stories, but also liked stories of girls with mousey brown hair. She likes her spies and secret powers.

So, we had a talk this evening about the books and her teacher and librarian feedback. My message was you have time for it. I remember when "Avatar" came out and people were taking kids to see it in 3D. Annika was about 8 or so, and I knew it would be too much for her. Wait another year, it came on video and we watched it together. I reminded her of that. Her only comment was "Oh, I didn't like that movie.. it was so blue." OK.

Therefore, if the books are worthwhile, they'll wait for her. She has years ahead of her to read those books. But right now, she should look for age-appropriate books. Next year at this time, she won't be interested and would miss out on something special. By the way, I was first feeling like I was censoring what she reads. But a friend succinctly pointed out that I was not censoring, but "monitoring." That's different.

Just for the record, I feel strongly about the under 10 crowd reading Harry Potter books as well. If they're interested, it's fine. However, they should plan to read it again in 10 years. That's when the beauty of the writing, the symbols and moral issues will "magically" appear to them and they'll truly be scared of Voldemort.