The Hunger Games Trilogy
Suzanne Collins (2008-2010)
Ah, another ultra-violent book (and movie*) that is not only accepted and okay-ed but exalted because it will "get the kids to read" -- not sure if there's a grrrrr here or merely a hmmm...
As my three regular readers know (what? Can't count myself? Not famous or eccentric enough to speak in 3rd person?) Ok, as both my regular readers know, I sometimes wail and rant against the amount of violence surrounding us, specifically in children's pop culture. But I did enjoy the book, I found the characters compelling and the violence/Government control/blind faith in leaders as abhorred and rejected by the main characters, the book, and the author. So it's all good, don't toss the message out with the bloody bathwater, as the saying sort of goes.
I think Katniss is a strong role model, not just for females but for encouraging the questioning of that's just the way it is and because we've always done it that way. Problem solving, putting others first, caring for family, taking responsibility, exploring and understanding how those (of us) in charge are not always right and/or good. I won't let my students read it, and neither will our Librarian, unless parents say ok, and even then I'd be hesitant, if only because I don't want them to miss the good stuff by reading literature/vocabulary over their head. If all they take from it is a desire to shoot something with bow and arrow, did we really "get the kids to read"? FULL DISCLOSURE: My 5th grade son read book 1 and loved it, but he's stuck with me as TeacherDad so you can be sure he'll be stuck discussing thematic elements at the dinner table.
*I thought the movie was very well done. As a movie, it was exactly what going to the theater and becoming immersed in the big screen and the story is all about. It reflected the book yet stands alone. It looked a little TV movie-ish for the final battle scenes, but District 12 more than made up for that. I'm glad I didn't take my 10 year old, although half my 5th grade class said they went opening weekend. He'll see it on video, and he'll see enough in his life, there's no rush to desensitize him.