Why Teach The Hunger Games?

I could probably list a thousand reasons why teaching The Hunger Games novel (and trilogy) can be a rewarding experience in your classroom.   Instead, I'm going to have my students respond to this and post their reasons here. Some responded with what they liked about the book or their favorite characters, and others posted about the overall novel.  If you'd like to read a condensed version of why I choose to teach The Hunger Games trilogy, read my post Teaching The Hunger Games.

Please keep in mind that my students are teenagers, mostly boys. And they had been arguing for days about who had a better chance of getting a date with Katniss Everdeen before I collected these responses. I did remind them that she was a fictional character, but that seemed irrelevant. They are freshmen boys. Does that explain it enough?

Katniss Everdeen is the ultimate protagonist; both boys and girls love her.
Student Responses Regarding Reading The Hunger Games in English I Class
 "I liked reading The Hunger Games because I think Katniss is pretty cool. I can relate the most with Peeta because he is attracted to her and so am I.  She is good at shooting a bow and she's pretty brave to take her sister's place and take the chance that she will probably die.  I love to hunt, so if I could take anyone with me to go deer hunting, I would choose Katniss Everdeen."

"I think The Hunger Games is one of the best books I've read because I never wanted to stop reading it. And I really hate to read."

"My favorite character in The Hunger Games was Primrose. Not because she plays a big role in the book, but because as we were reading it and Katniss left for the Games, I felt strongly about how Prim was feeling. My brother left and moved to Texas and I felt heartbroken because I've always been close to him.  I know exactly how Prim feels: empty, like she is never going to see her sister again. That is how I felt about my brother. There is not a day I don't think about him and I know Prim is the same with Katniss. And Katniss thinks of Prim, too.  Prim probably didn't think Katniss would win and come home. But when she did, she probably cried and hugged her.  My brother finally came home and I cried and hugged him.  And now he might have to go back and it is breaking my heart."

"I really like Katniss Everdeen. I think she is hot. I want to take her on a date and go hunting for a date. We would kill squirrels and bears and catch fish to eat for dinner. I would make her a fire and roast marshmallows and make smores for our dessert. This book was fun to read because she is hot and I can relate to Peeta because I'm good at camouflage and can lift a lot of weights. So I think if she met me, she would choose me."

"All my classmates think that they have a shot with Katniss Everdeen. Well, I'm here to tell them they don't. First of all, I'm a lot more like Peeta Mellark than they are. So I would do a better job of protecting her. I can cook anything, I wrestle, I'm strong, I have good hand strength, and I'm just as smart as Peeta. Oh, and I'm pretty good at camo, too. I have blond hair, blue eyes, and I'm broad shouldered. And I would do everything I could to protect Katniss. Those guys just want to kiss her. They aren't really looking out for what she wants. She just wants to survive and get home to her sister and mom. And since I think I am too, I think they should put me in the movie to play Peeta. Then I can get a real kiss from Katniss Everdeen after I save her life."

"I hate hunting, but I really liked the parts in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire when Katniss was in the Capitol and eating all the fancy food and wearing the cool dresses. Even though she's not a girly-girl, I think she liked getting seeing what Cinna designed and how she looked and felt in the dresses."

"Katniss is the ultimate protagonist because she's really fierce, but she's also beautiful but not conceited about it. Like she doesn't know how hot she is. And she can hold her own, too. It's pretty awesome we all like her and the girls like her, too. Usually girls hate other beautiful girls because they're jealous, but it's different with Katniss. They like her, too. I don't know how the author did that, but it worked."

"When we were reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire in class I didn't want to leave class when the bell rang. I've never said that about any English class or about reading any other books. But I wanted to stay and see what happened next. I didn't even want to go to shop class and that's my favorite class."

"Katniss hunts. Do I need to say anything more? That is the hottest thing ever."

"The books are really interesting. They appeal to all of us. There wasn't anyone in our class who didn't like The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, or Mockingjay. I don't think any other books appeal to every one of us because we are so different. I mean, you look at our class and we have people who are complete opposites of each other."

"I don't know why everybody thinks Katniss should be with Peeta. She really should be with Gale. But besides that, I really liked reading these books. And it's funny to listen to the boys in our class argue over Katniss. Like she's even real! And like she would choose any of them!  Ha! But it really made coming to class fun because at least I knew we had one period a day where they wouldn't be acting like idiots and getting in trouble."

"I don't think the books are as violent as people think they are. Yeah, there's violence. But we have read worse before. And it isn't like violence is made to be cool or anything like that. When Katniss has to kill, it's not like we cheer. I mean, we feel bad. I think that's what it has to be like for soldiers who go over to Iraq. I don't think deep down they really want to kill anyone and they have to feel bad and have bad dreams after they took someone's life. I think reading the books made me think more about life and how easy it could be gone. Not just my life but anyone's life.  If more people read The Hunger Games books, maybe they would appreciate their lives more and other people's lives, too."

The following responses are from my sophomores (both regular/honors students). They were asked to summarize why they liked or didn't like The Hunger Games in one or two sentences (I had ZERO responses for dislikes):

"I liked The Hunger Games because it was suspenseful. Anyone who likes survival stories will like it."

"I'm really excited for the movie. I liked Katniss's story because I could picture it in my head as I read. Hey, that rhymes. :D"

"I liked it because it has a lot of action and kept me on the edge of my seat. And Gale is sooooo hot!"

"I Liked The Hunger Games because of the way it was written. It was full of suspense and excitement. The characters are also very interesting. This was one of those books that I had a movie going on in my head throughout the entire story."

"The book made me want to slap Katniss. Why can't she figure it out? I want to scream at her 'cause she drove me crazy. That's how I know it's a good book. When it makes me feel so...........intense toward a character."

"I loved the dresses Cinna designed. That's what I want to do."

"I recommend The Hunger Games to anyone who wants to read a really good book that you can't put down because I could not put it down once I started reading it even though it might have messed me up on some of the quizzes because I read ahead it was worth it because it was interesting and different from other books we read in class."

"I liked The Hunger Games because of all the action and the not-knowing-the-next-thing-that-will-happen (suspense) feeling. I would recommend this to people who like action."

"I liked it because it was kinda about future gladiator fights."

"I don't really like to read, as you know. But when you kept posting all those pictures each day of the actors who were going to play the characters, it made me want to read it. I love Liam Hemsworth. So I had to find out more about this Gale dude. Then I didn't want to stop reading it. So does she hook up with Gale when they get home? God, I hate that I have to read another book to find out, but you have left me no choice!!! Can I check it out over the summer? Please?"

And one of my students wanted to write a letter to the author, Suzanne Collins, expressing what the book meant to her. This wasn't an assignment; she said she just wanted to express to Ms. Collins what an impact The Hunger Games has had on her:

"Dear Mrs. Suzanne Collins,
  I am currently reading The Hunger Games in my English II class. Prior to reading the book, I couldn't figure out why our teacher was so fanatic about it or what it was that made her rant and rave about how good it was. She was even to the point of counting down the days until the movie premier, which occurs next year. It took me about twopages in the book to remember why it was I used to read books and enjoyed reading books. You didn't hesitate a moment, or waste a page of space before you were vividly explaining every detail of the characters, where they come from, and what it is that makes them who they are, leaving nothing out.
  If I had to describe who I am and the way I talk, I'd have to say my that my words are a little out of order sometimes; I like to take an ordinary sentence and mix it up a bit. For instance, instead of saying, 'Hi, what's up?' I would probably say something a little more along the lines of 'Hello! And what might you be doing today?' Since this most likely seems completely off-topic from your book, it's quite clear. Your style of writing is so easy for me to follow, and I don't find myself dozing off thinking about other things and having to read pages over again to refresh my memory about what I'd skimmed over. Instead, I'm lost deep within each page, eager to flip to the next.
  Many of my classmates and I have had no problem keeping our studies up to date. The majority of us are actually having trouble hanging back and refraining from reading on past our nightly-assigned chapters. Once nearly everyone was on the ball rolling, Mrs. Orman has had close to no explaining as to what was happening in the book. I believe that your book might have gotten some kids back into reading as it has for me, and encouraged us to read the next ones in the series!

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