this is no place for a girl on fire.

If you don't know about this series, then I don't know where you've been.  The Hunger Games  by Suzanne Collins is my favorite series that I've read since His Dark Materials (I didn't read HDM until after Harry Potter).  I'm currently rereading them for the second time. These YA books are amazing.  As an English Teacher, while reading them I couldn't help but think of all the lesson plans I could make out of these books. It's a great dystopian series that lends itself to heaps and heaps of lessons for our current state of life.  I think it'd be a great series to introduce to 8th & 9th graders, possibly 10th graders too.  While I'm all about teaching kids classics, I think it's important to incorporate some contemporary literature to really catch their attention.  Obvious lessons would be the government system at play as well as the allusions to the downfalls of reality television and our culture's obsession with schadenfreude.  Close readings of these books could really help students with critical thinking - I'm thinking particularly with cartography.  If you're not familiar, all of the Districts in Panem are described by their industry and sometimes their landscape -- a close reading could offer students a way to use their knowledge of the industries and locations of each in present-day US to map where they think each of the 13 districts would be.   Okay, okay, taking off my Teacher's hat now.

Wanna know what these are about?  I'll tell ya!  Katniss, a teen from District 12 of Panem (the coal-mining Appalachian district... obviously I like this girl because protagonists from Appalachia are rarely seen in a positive light in novels.  This makes me happy for all the App kids reading it and loving her!) is a tribute along with Peeta (boy tribute) in the Capitol's annual Hunger Games.  The first book in the series follows Katniss as she volunteers to be tribute in place of her younger sister Prim, ventures to the Capitol with Peeta, Haymitch (their mentor in the games), and Effie (the Capitol escort to District 12), trains for the games, and then competes in the 74th Games.
Some THG Vocab broken down for you:
  • Panem - nation established in North America after the destruction of modern civilization.  Made up of 13 Districts and the Capitol. (I would like to note that the map I used to make my collage I found on the internet and it is not where I'd place some of those districts, but for the most part I think the districts are fairly accurate.)
  • Tribute - a child (2 from each district, boy & girl) randomly selected (or they can volunteer) to compete in the Hunger Games.
  • Hunger Games - annual event in which 24 (boy & girl from Districts 1-12) teens compete to the death in a televised competition. The victor in the Hunger Games is the last one alive.  The Hunger Games are mandatory viewing for everyone in Panem.
... that's about all I'll give for now - enough so you understand my summary.  You'll learn the rest when you read the books. I definitely think it's important to read the books more than one time.  So many pieces come into play that it's very fun on a second reading to notice little things that come up later in the novel, or in the second or third book.  This is particularly fun with the 2nd book, Catching Fire, because it is much more of a puzzle that you need to figure out instead of just a case of survival.

Katniss makes for an engaging protagonist in a very real way.  She's not all shiny and happy, understandably so.  She's pessimistic and hard but without being unlikable.  She frustrates me a lot in the books with her indecision on certain things, but I keep reminding myself that she is just a teen and the way she does process & deal with things seems very real, even though she's living in a very different time.  

Check these books out if you haven't already -- super quick reads.  Trust me, you won't put them down until you're finished!  I could talk for ages about these books! 

Have you read THG? 
What did you think?

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I would definitely love teaching this book. I've seen lots of students reading this, so it's obviously something they would enjoy.

    I have a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card... any other recommendations?