The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a riveting and disturbing book. It is set in postapocolyptic North America where a reality game show keeps society in check. A boy and a girl from each district are chosen by lot, and they must battle for life gladiator style with boys and girls from other districts and ultimately with each other. Alliances are made throughout the game with the nagging dilemma that eventually one of them will have to kill the other. The beauty of this book comes at the end, when the two main characters figure out how to play this brutal game on their own terms and send the message that the powers that be don’t own them.
Kids will be reading this book for sure, and that means parents should, too. I wouldn’t want a child under 12 reading it, but doubtless there will be 9- and 10-year-olds reading it (a boy in one of my second-grade classes is reading it). I highly encourage parents to read this book along with their kids — not necessarily as a read-aloud but just read it so you can talk about it together. There are a lot of ethical and “what would you do?” kinds of questions just begging to be discussed.