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Hunger Games Mania in the Classroom

With The Hunger Games taking over movie and celebrity media right now, many teachers are scrambling to include this book in their reading curriculum. The books are so engaging to readers of all ages that these books could be used in almost every discipline. Of course, in ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS classes, students can study the structure of the story as well as the strong female lead. Comparing Katniss to other female leading characters in classic and contemporary literature would be interesting. Then there are the dynamics of characterization over the course of the first book as well as over the course of the series.

But what about other disciplines?

HISTORY BRIDGE: The books could be used to discuss the impact of global war, as in the series the world has been rebuilt into 13 districts after devastating war destroyed the world’s previous government and separate-nations structure. There are also threads to be discussed concerning economic structures as all 13 districts were assigned specific responsibilities in keeping Panem’s society running smoothly. Teachers could also use it to discuss the structure of tyrannical/controlling governments and how rebellion is borne of oppression.

SCIENCE BRIDGE: The series lends itself to discussion of some of the medical and genetic “advancements” discussed in the books. Would it really be possible to create the hybrid animals, etc. depicted in the books? What kind of science/genetic engineering would be needed to create a Muttation, Mockingjay, or Tracker Jacker? Students could also study some of the natural remedies Katniss and other contestants use during the games to heal wounds.

MATH BRIDGE: Mathematically, one could work with the different numbers games in the books. As Effie is fond of saying, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” But, how do the odds work? Students could examine the odds that Prim would be chosen for the games in the first place, given that it was her first year to be eligible for The Reaping. Then there are the odds that Katniss would volunteer. Then there are the odds against Katniss or Peeta winning much less the eventual outcome of the first book’s games.

MUSIC BRIDGE: Students could try composing their own versions of Rue’s song and the thematic music used for the games. They could come up with theme music for Katniss: The Girl on Fire.

ART BRIDGE: Students could design models of what they think the arena looks like. They could also draw depictions of the hybrid animals as well as their interpretations of Katniss’s and the other contestants’ costumes and gear.

I could go on and on. This book series crosses the line between children’s literature and adult literature and crosses lines in the classroom as well. Here are two magnificent resources I recommend for helping adapt these books for the classroom. The first is a book written by a friend of mine, Dr. Shelbie Witte from Florida State University, in collaboration with her English Ed students and the help of Juan Mendizabal. Click on the book cover photo to order from Amazon.

This second resource is an article that appeared in the New York Times recently with lots of good suggestions. Click here to read the article.

READERS: Because there are The Haves and Have-Nots all competing along with male and female contestants, the books appeal to almost any reader. Fans of dystopic literature will enjoy the books as well as fans of action/adventure reads.

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One thought on “Hunger Games Mania in the Classroom

  1. On the topic of rebellions you could connect this to a discussion of the Arab Spring. Another possibility would be a discussion of slave systems especially those that employed a “blood tax” such as the Ottoman Empire. Finally, you could do a sociological look at the fascination with blood sports. You could examine the gladiator games and the voyeurism of reality tv.

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