I want to take a moment to thank Suzanne Collins for writing The Hunger Games trilogy. I’m not sure my words here will be able to express the amount of gratitude I feel for what reading her books have done for myself, for my students, and for the thousands of students who read them each year, but I will try.
The first time I had heard of Suzanne Collins' novel The Hunger Games was in September of 2008. Stephen King wrote a review of it in Entertainment Weekly, which immediately caught my attention since I both respect King's opinion and thought it was interesting he was reviewing young adult lit. So I ordered the book on Amazon based on his review and it sat on my nightstand for nearly a year collecting dust with other books I wanted to read but never had the time.
Of course, I’ve been kicking myself for not reading it sooner ever since.
Suzanne Collins helped me renew my love for teaching during a time where I didn’t think I would last in the profession another year. In 2009 I had a difficult group of students–mostly boys–in a remedial freshmen English class. I had lost all hope of ever finding any material they would even attempt to read. All my old stand-byes had been exhausted.
But then I remembered the book on my nightstand. Since my students were mostly into hunting, I thought perhaps I could at least read a little more about that world since it was foreign to me. Honestly, the description of The Hunger Games didn’t appeal to me at all. But by the time I read the first few pages, I started to care about this sad futuristic world that was a result of our present-day abuse of the planet and of each other.
Collins drew me into the story because I was truly interested in how our actions today will affect future generations. But when I shared the novel with my students, I learned that her story-telling is so much deeper, richer than I had realized.
While I was initially interested in the world of Panem, some students were immediately drawn to Katniss and her survival skills. Some were enthralled with the concept of the Games, and some wanted to know everything there was to know about the Capitol and all its modern conveniences and gadgets. And many girls loved the idea of two good-looking boys vying for Katniss’s attention. There is literally something included in the novel to appeal to practically everyone. Nature-lovers, hunters, miners, gear-heads, techies, fashionistas, make-up and tattoo artists...everyone.
And it isn’t just the content of Collins’ novels that appeals to all readers. It is the way she tells the story. Her style of writing has a way of drawing the reader in using humor and suspense while keeping the reader engrossed with sarcastic dialogue and heart-wrenching moments. (Seriously heart-wrenching moments.)