If you have a teen in your house, then the chances are that you have heard of the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. The newest literary craze among young readers, these books are so popular it’s gotten very difficult for us to keep copies on the shelf in the library. As a librarian, I consider it my responsibility to read a title if I get asked for it more than three times a day. For whatever reason, it took me a while to finally crack and give the Hunger Games a try. Finally, after being told by several friends who are teachers that I simply must read them, I placed my hold on the first in the trilogy. It arrived in the library, and I dutifully checked it out.
The next 24 hours were a blur, as I became caught up in the story of Katniss Everdeen, the girl who was on fire. The world she lived in was so stark, so harsh and yet so full of moments of genuine human connection. The story is set in a world very different from our own, and yet there is something so hauntingly relatable about many of the characters and the situations they find themselves in. I simply could not stop reading once the journey began. Greedily, I searched library holdings to find a copy of the second book, and then drove pretty far out of my way to get my hands on Catching Fire, book two of the set. When it came time to finish the series and read Mockingjay, it wasn’t in any library, so I did what any voracious reader would do. I drove to Barnes and Noble and bought my own copy.
I was actually reading Mockingjay at a library conference, and it was the icebreaker to start a conversation with pretty much anyone there. Anyone who saw me with it instantly approached and began a conversation, and there were so many things to discuss thanks to the books. I’m grateful to authors like Suzanne Collins for providing literature that really captures the interest of the teen reader. I think many of us are in danger of overlooking the rich interior lives that many teens are living, and here are works of literature that tap into that, and give young readers an unconventional heroine that they can relate to. If you have not read these books, and you have a teen or tween in your life who is a fan of them, consider giving them a try. You may find yourself enjoying a good read you may not have selected otherwise, and it will certainly open up new pathways of conversation for you. And should you ever find yourself at a library conference, know that a copy of the Hunger Games is the ultimate conversation piece.