Why Boys Read the Hunger Games

A lot of boys like to read.  I’ve got two of them as a matter of fact.

One of my sons prefers to read non-fiction. He’s 16, and is busy making sense of the universe around him. He’s a thinker, and therefore wants to feed his brain with interesting and real situations that he can relate to, and that expand his world-view.

My other son, who is 12, has very diverse tastes that neither he nor I have actually been able to pinpoint.  He’s like me-there has to be something about a book to attract him-the cover, the description on the back, or even a phrase inside.  There’s no quality to pinpoint, no genre to focus on; his favorite books just have just, well, ‘je ne sais quoi’.  But, he reads non stop.  So, that’s good, and no arguments there.

On the other hand, there are many more boys who don’t read at all.  Of course, there are girls too, like my daughter, but seemingly more of the former.  It’s an age old question, ‘How do I get my son to read?’

Reading has unlimited benefits:  it grows your vocabulary, subliminally develops grammar and syntax, ignites the imagination, and fires up creativity.

It goes without saying, especially because of the intellectual and educational value of reading, that finding books that actually engross a boy, that they want to talk about, and that they might even read again, well, that is a dream come true to many parents.

Enter the Hunger Games Trilogy.  At my son’s school, they included the first book as part of the Grade 7 curriculum.  All the kids had to read it, whether they liked it or not.  And, for the first time, according to the teacher, they had absolutely no resistance. Every single kid read the assigned novel.  And they even liked it.  A lot.

I asked my son’s friend about Hunger Games and reading. This is a young man whose mother has been at her wits end trying to get him to, at the very least, read the material assigned as part of the language curriculum at school.  However, he really enjoyed the Hunger Games, and said that he would read the other two books in the trilogy. I repeat: read the other TWO books.  When he said this, his mother almost fainted.

I was curious, so of course, I wanted to know what attracted him to Hunger Games, and whether it had changed his opinion on the past time of reading.

His answer?

  • Hunger Games seemed like it could happen.  (Something tweens think about-the world, mortality, and their environment).
  • He liked the fast-moving action (there have been a lot of conversations about the subject matter and violence in this trilogy, but to be truthful, most of the kids aren’t bothered, just the adults).
  • He found that the author didn’t talk down to her audience and the language was complex enough to be interesting, yet not so as to make it a difficult read.
  • He said it engaged his imagination (again, excellent writing and an engaging storyline), but wasn’t so out there as to be hard to picture (important for a child without a vivid imagination or who isn’t a really good reader.)

Lastly, he said that if other novels had these qualities, he would read them too.  His mother smiled.  Mission accomplished: Hunger Games got a boy hungry for reading.

Do you know any non-readers who got hooked by the Hunger Games?

By @chickymara

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