Today I am going to feature a more recent challenged book - or books, to be exact: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
In case you haven't read The Hunger Games (and why haven't you?!), here's the premise. In a dystopian future, America has been reduced to twelve districts and a Capital after a devastating revolution. Unfortunately for the revolutionaries, they lost. To keep the districts in line, the Capital demands two tributes from each district; a boy and a girl, between the ages of twelve and sixteen, to compete in a televised fight...to the death.
Look, I get it. The Hunger Games is violent - and it's kids killing other kids, which is even worse. But what are people afraid of here? That after reading these books, kids will start hunting each other in the woods with a crossbow? Or that the next reality television show will be a live death-match? (Actually, I wouldn't put that past some of the executives at Fox.) But seriously, how many times a week do we hear about a gang-related shooting resulting in the death of a teenager? Or a child killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan? Is the premise of this book really that different than what's going on in Rwanda?
The truth is, we can't shield our children from the horrors in the world. And the challenge to The Hunger Games is an attempt to do just that. Instead, we should talk to our children about the human cost of these horrors - something that is a major theme in The Hunger Games.
One of the other complaints about these books is that they are "sexually explicit." I'd like to challenge that challenge. There is no sex in any of the three books, until the very end when there is a veiled and poetic reference to it (between two married characters). This again leads me to believe that the people challenging these books aren't actually reading them.
But above all, these books are awesome. They are action-packed and fast-paced, and the heroine is fierce. The story grabs you by the throat in the first few pages, and doesn't let you go until the last page of the last book. Isn't that what we want out of our stories? We want to escape into a book where the world is dangerous and unsafe...because in our real lives that's the last thing we want.
And that's why we read in the first place, to experience something on the page that we never will in real life.