Age Appropriate

Parental Reviews Of Non-Parental Books

The Hunger Games

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Number of Pages: 384
Advertised Age Level: Young Adult

Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 16 years

Language: no profanity
Sex: minimal kissing
Drug/Alcohol Use: one character drinks heavily and is an alcoholic
Violence: extreme violence
Social Issues: dystopian world, oppression, starvation, children forced to kill each other
Suggested Movie Grade: PG-13

Premise: Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As punishment for their uprising, each district is forced to send one boy and one girl to participate in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

Potential Points of Concern: The premise of The Hunger Games is how an oppressive government punishes its citizens and keeps them under control by forcing their children to kill each other as a form of sport and entertainment. It is an extremely intense, violent book and may not be appropriate for younger or sensitive readers.

Katniss is forced to remove her clothing in order to be assessed by her “image makers”. Not a sexual scene.

Many characters die in a variety of ways. While descriptions are not overly graphic (as one might find in a horror novel), they are very clearly described and intense.

Both Katniss and Peeta are wounded.

Katniss and Peeta share a couple of kisses.

Age Appropriateness:  11 and up, older for sensitive readers


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21 thoughts on “The Hunger Games

  1. I feel like this book is well written but too graphic for someone under about age 14. I am disappointed to learn from my 7th grade son that his teacher is doing a novel study on it in a few months. Kids killing kids is awful and the depictions are graphic in this book – yes I have read it. For political commentary, I feel there are classics that are less bloody and more appropriate.

  2. Did you know that my 6th grade class read the hunger games in school and it was totally fine. How is it not appropriate? We understood everything and we all loved all three books. And then my younger sister and her friends read the books and loved it! Whats up with parents? Oh no its got violence in it, can’t let my children read about that! Seriously we can handle it and we will if not already be exposed to violence. I mean turn on the news for crying out loud! So thats why that teacher was my favorite, because last year he introduced us to the best books in creation. Its to bad he’s not at my school anymore. Oh well. Oh and better yet my school even has a poster for the movie, which is coming out and my seventh grade class and some others might even go see the movie. But i am sooooooo going any way.

    Oh I am sorry if I came across as nasty or something. I really didn’t mean to do that.

    • ageappropriate on said:

      Thanks for your personal insight – it sounds like you really enjoyed this book, and it’s great to hear from a younger reader on how they feel about the age-appropriateness of this book. I hope you like the movie, too.

      I think this book is okay for 6th grade readers, especially if they get the chance to talk about it either in class or with parents or even their friends. My son is a 6th grader and he read this book and really liked it. I only say that kids who might be easily frightened or might get upset with the subject matter might want to wait until they are a bit older to read it. It is pretty intense.

  3. Mike Dyer on said:

    My son’s teacher lent him this book and, after glancing through it, I can readily see that it is not meant for the age-group that the publisher suggests (11-13). The degree of graphic violence/death/maiming and the social-mental despair are not something my 11-year-old should be immersing himself into. If the movie based on the book has a minimum PG-13 rating, that should alert everyone that this book is not meant for pre-teens in any fashion.

  4. Kathleen Wright on said:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to develop a site like this.
    Too many times, we as parents assume a book is acceptable simply because an overwhelming number of our children’s peers are reading it. I learned early in my child’s reading life, that too many novels seem to have a trickle down effect; that is, they are marketed to and read by an age appropriate group (say teenagers) and as a book grows in populairty, the teenagers then hand the book to their younger siblings and before you know it, children are reading novel far too mature for their age. I value these kind of websites because they help me make an informed decision. Again, many thanks!

  5. the hunger game series is the best series ever. i dont like reading and it took me 3 days to read all the books. i suggest you reading the hunger games series.

  6. Piggy689 on said:

    It’s a really good book I would suggest 10 and up. Some violence, and blood. Don’t get this book if you’re easily grossed out.

  7. After my initial shock I found I enjoyed the book… but as a parent and a former English teacher, I really question the content being appropriate for such a young audience? I was disturbed, to say the least… and I don’t tend to be squeamish about violence in stories. High school–yes; middle school–maybe; elementary school–I don’t think so.

  8. Hunger Games Lover on said:

    OH MY GOSH This book is definitely my all time favorite! I’m already a fan of reading, but let me tell you, this book made all the difference! Anyone in middle school and older should definitely read this one, unless, as said before, you are easily frightened. There really isn’t anything too bad about this book. Parents, I know you are worried about your child’s well being both physically and mentally, but you really shouldn’t make a big deal out of this! This book is definitely a page turner and it is by far a good book for middle schoolers. Please allow them to read it! The description above is accurate, but it seems to out a little too much emphasis on the violence and a little too less on things like how Katniss risked her life to protect her little sister, and *spoiler alert!* how she managed to save another boy in the end. The book teaches you many important life lessons and should be praised instead of put down! Middle school children are more mature and can handle a lot more than parents give them credit for. Please, let them read the book! They could be missing out on an amazing time!

  9. I love it!

  10. A book about children being forced to kill children.. and what important life lessons are kids supposed to take away from this story ? Unfortunately, my son who is 10 years old said several kids in his class are reading the book. I will not allow him to read this rubbish.. maybe in high school he can choose to read it when he is more mature, but I don’t see where the value lies. Just another book/movie succeeding in de-sensitizing our kids to violence at younger and younger ages.

    • ageappropriate on said:

      I won’t try to convince you that a story that features children killing other children is trying to impart life-lessons to our youth or that reading this book is a must for a well-rounded literary education. It is very violent and the premise a dark and disturbing one. Too, I agree that our media’s acceptance and promotion of violence as a valid and acceptable form of entertainment is more than just twisted logic. But that’s a discussion for a different blog. I will say that the author of “The Hunger Games” trilogy – Suzanne Collins – has stated that she sees these books as a commentary on the horrors of war, so I don’t necessary believe that she wrote them simply as exploitations of violence-as-entertainment. If this book holds any value for you, perhaps it might be as a jumping off point for a discussion on how violence is an ugly and horrible blight on society, something that should be avoided rather than revered.

  11. Christy on said:

    I now have this website in my “favorites”. As far as The Hunger Games phenomenon goes…….it has caused a dissension between myself and the rest of my playgroup. One Mom has let her child read it and she did not preview it or ask questions beforehand. Another Mom, who is very strict with her child’s TV viewing, also thinks it’s ok. Based on many of our conversations, I thought they was stricter than me, in this regard. I wonder if many of the parents out there are “bowing to the pressure” because “everyone else is doing it”. I know I do it too, but not this time. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and views. Mine is that this is in no way appropriiate for ANYONE in elementary school. It is not only the violence but the sexual overtones-and not all of these are covert, mind you. I cannot wrap my head around why any parent would let a child under 13 read these books. Even if the child is advanced and mature, it is way too much of a sensory overload.

  12. Christy on said:

    Oops on the above spelling errors.
    I wanted to add that these are, in fact, excellent books. I devoured all three in about four days.

  13. C. Henne on said:

    Hunger games is a great book, very well, written and certainly an excellent book for studying …… In high school! Above it states that there is no sex. But there is a nude scene with the 16 yro heroine being assessed and tressed by adults against her will.
    The author is good about writing unsympathetic characters who we careless about when they die. However, the fact remains that they are still children, brought up in a corrupt, uncompassionate society and as such, an educated, mature reader would know that the deaths are still quite sad and disturbing. My 12 year does not yet have the mental and emotional maturity to grasp the large themes in this book and it commentary on a degenerate society. She will just see it as an exciting adventure and only become more desensitized to violence.
    As an adult I really enjoyed this book , but my child will not read it until she reaches high school. And even then, there will be discussions with me or her father about the book and how she understands and interprets the content.

    • ageappropriate on said:

      Thanks – I’ve updated the review to include that bit about Katniss being evaluated in the nude. While not sexual in nature, it is definitely something that should be noted.

  14. reillyguy2 on said:

    I am in 8th grade and thought this book was really good, but I don’t think I’m going to see the movie. The book is appropriate for ALL middle schoolers, but the movie is not.

    For the person who commented that the movie is PG-13, causing the book to be inappropriate, movies are always more inappropriate than books. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is PG-13…..and you wouldn’t let your child read that tame book, that’s being read by ELEMENTARY SCHOOL kids all over the U.S.

  15. William on said:

    Absolutely amazing book. I read very little even in school because I don’t like books. My sister got me to read it and we both ended up finishing all 3 books in just over 2 weeks. I could not put the book Down

  16. coolchick on said:

    i think it’s great and i’m 12 it’s not too violent for me personally but i think it’s a great movie and book and i’m not usually that into violence

  17. I didn’t have much interest in the stories until my husband and I watched the first movie with some friends. I decided to read the first one, and then I quickly downed the trilogy. My son is in 5th grade (almost 11 years old) and surprised me when he explained that one or more kids in his class have read at least the first book. Then I thought about it some more and decided that he MIGHT be ready for it. However, I don’t think it would be appropriate for a whole class to read until maybe 8th grade or so, particularly since each child is different. My advice would be to read it yourself if you haven’t already and then consider how it may affect your child and his or her thoughts before making a decision. Since I’m on the fence, I’ll probably give it another year. There are plenty of books that he can enjoy in the meantime; he is almost done with the Chronicles of Narnia and wants to read Harry Potter next. He also somewhat (within the past year or so) enjoyed the Wormling series and two of the Red Rock Mystery books.

  18. I should add that I’ve already discussed the subject of the book with my son. I’m not so concerned that he can’t handle the violence; I don’t like reading violent stories myself, but this was a distinct exception due to the way it was written. My son is also probably the least violent boy his age that I know. More importantly though, I want him to be able to grasp the complexity of the situation and think about not only the feelings of the characters but also the politics involved, etc.

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