“The Hunger Games” has made headlines the past two weeks because of its record-breaking success at the Box Office. Over the movie’s first two weekends, “The Hunger Games” has taken in $251 million, including $150 million in its opening weekend.
While it’s hard to predict success on that level, it really comes as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Suzanne Collins’ book – which the movie is based on – and the incredible buzz it has generated for readers of all ages, particularly kids.
My girlfriend, Erin Randall, a Special Education Reading Teacher at Greenwich High School, has been reading the book with three of her classes this year. As a culminating activity and reward for finishing the book, Erin organized a trip for her class, as well as a few others, to go see the movie the day it opened.
As I’m sure is the case in schools and homes throughout the country, kids who ordinarily would not pick up a book have been drawn to this one. For some, it may be the first book they’ve read. Many have proceeded to read “Mockingjay” and “Catching Fire,” the two other parts of Collins’ immensely popular trilogy.
Maybe some of this is about giving Erin credit for having the knowledge and foresight to choose a book like this. It’s also about reminding people how important it is to get kids to read, and different approaches to making that happen.
When I was in graduate school, I did my Master’s Project on engaging young readers. One of the topics that came up repeatedly in my research, and proved to be a big part of my paper, was the Young Adult Literature genre. “The Hunger Games” has brought YA Lit into the classroom in a big way.
People of all ages, skill levels, and interests have read, and are reading, “The Hunger Games.” It’s No. 1 on the New York Times’ Series list. A visit to Erin’s classroom proves what a huge hit it’s been for young – often times reluctant – readers at Greenwich High School. And, in the most recent independent reading project that I assigned my sophomores, eight students chose to read this book.
Here’s how it is described on Amazon:
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.