This week I learned that one of my favorite young adult novels, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, was being adopted by the Lenape High School as its school-wide summer read. It's a futuristic dystopian novel with a teenage female protagonist battling in a televised Survivor-style competition in order to provide for her home town.
Why do I love this book? There are many reasons. It has a wide variety of themes that can be incorporated into all sorts of units. Bravery, loyalty, friendship, family, social classes, political systems, media influence, and self-identity are all possible avenues of exploration with this text. It's probably between a 6th and 7th grade reading level, but it can easily hold the attention of those much older. Besides the diversity of themes, it offers the basis for a discussion on change. Its a great start to contrast this malfunctioning, futuristic society with that of today. My biggest reason is that the book is truly engaging. The reader is drawn into the plight of our heroine, and can easily empathize with the struggles she faces.
The book itself is a hot new read across the country. I first learned of it from my sister who teaches English out in Colorado, where the middle school in her town has rapidly adopted it. The popularity of the book also is evidenced by the broad sales of the second and third sequels in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I'm waiting for a bit of free time to read them (I know, keep on laughing!). If you're teaching middle school or even high school students, I encourage you to check it out. Let me know what you think of it, and be sure to post your own favorite novels for teenagers!
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)