After-Action Report on Using The Hunger Games in English 111 and Student Guest Post

The Katniss Effect by Erin Thompson

I think that reading is one of the most powerful influences in my life. As a lifelong reader, I’ve found that many of my worldviews have been formed after visiting different worlds through fiction. I enjoy being able to step into the shoes of different characters and experience things from their point of view. Reading The Hunger Games made me excited about young adult literature again, reformed my opinion on movie adaptations of books, and forced me to re-evaluate my opinion of popular fiction.

Reading The Hunger Games was an incredible experience for me. I really enjoyed the book, and found myself immersed in a page-turner for the first time in quite a while. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the past few years reading and evaluating books, and while I’ve certainly read many excellent ones, I’ve often been disappointed in much of the Young Adult (YA) literature that I’ve come into contact with. I’ve found many titles to be gratuitous, over-sexed, and in many cases, poorly written. I was hesitant to read The Hunger Games for those reasons. I was sure that I would find it to be a disappointment. After I started the book, it took me a few chapters to really begin enjoying it. After I had spent some time with the book, I began to really enjoy it. It was smart, well-written and incredibly inventive. I also thought that Suzanne Collins took an extremely delicate and possibly controversial subject and handled it with grace and a lot of forethought. After reading The Hunger Games I started to re-evaluate YA literature. While I still believe that there are many books in this genre that are lacking literary value (as there are in all genres), there are so many undiscovered gems to be found. Since beginning with The Hunger Games, I’ve begun to search out other YA novels and try to find out just why they have such a big following.

Often when I hear that a loved book is being made into a movie, I try to avoid it so I’m not disappointed in the adaptation. I don’t find myself caring one way or another whether a movie adaptation occurs, I simply don’t want my opinion of the book to change. When I heard that Collins’ book was being adapted into a movie, I was anxious to see how the screenwriters would handle many of the sensitive subjects in the pages of The Hunger Games. I wasn’t planning on avoiding the movie and I wasn’t worried about my opinion of the book; I was worried about the rest of the world’s opinion. I knew that there was a possibility that people who had not read the book would see the movie and think poorly of it. If a screenwriter that is not sensitive to the controversial subjects contained in the book, the general public will find this movie appalling. After thinking about this particular movie affecting perception of the book, I began to think about other movie adaptations and their effects of some of my other favorite books. In the past I have not taken the time to care about these effects, but will be paying more attention in the future. Of course, I will also be waiting for the adaptation of The Hunger Games with baited breath.

As a bookseller for the past four years, I’ve developed a distaste for many of the books that become popular based on word-of-mouth and various best-seller lists. Too often, I would take a recommendation from a customer to read “the greatest book ever written” only to find it a disappointment. After a while, I stopped taking recommendations because I was continuously let-down. The Hunger Games broke the streak of bad recommendations; it was an amazing book that I enjoyed reading. For so long, I resisted reading Collins’ book because I thought it wasn’t for me. When we were assigned the book, I was reluctant to begin, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down! I loved the book and was glad that I was forced to read it. This caused me to re-evaluate my “just say no” policy when it came to recommendations from strangers. Since I began The Hunger Games, I’ve taken several people up on their recommendations and have found some wonderful books were waiting for me. In fact, one of those recommendations has been passed on to several other people and gotten rave reviews as well. The Hunger Games taught me a much needed lesson on learning to trust others’ book sense.

In conclusion, The Hunger Games experience for me was a positive one. It reached far beyond the actual reading of the book and had many effects on my opinions and my bookshelf. Since reading about Katniss’ adventures, I’ve found myself exploring more YA literature (and loving it), re-evaluating my opinion of movie adaptations of books, and taking others up on their recommendations for my next read. I even let other members of my book club choose our next selection.


  1. Joel Norris says

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I teach high school physics. I have been trying to assign novels as extra credit. I don’t feel right assigning them in class when I have so many other things to cover, but since we have projects and tests, I like to give another opportunity for different minded students to succeed. More students than I thought really enjoy reading. I LOVE this book. I am going to assign it for this semester and am thinking about using your journal concept. I feel like I have got to get these kids reading!! They don’t understand that written communication is SO important, even in science. I am hoping that this experience will light a fire for them.

    Joel Norris
    Physics Teacher

  2. Elizabeth says

    Thanks, Joel! Please let me know if I can help in any way. How exciting for your students! We hope you will let us know how it goes!

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