Burning Question

Should school libraries ban The Hunger Games?

Suzanne Collins' hit novels rank third on the list of 2011's most-challenged books, reflecting a surge in parent complaints over the arguably objectionable content

The film adaptation of The Hunger Games just roared past the $300 million mark at the box office, but the massively popular books that launched the craze haven't been forgotten. Collectively, Suzanne Collins' hit trilogy ranks third on the just-released list of U.S. library books that drew the most complaints last year, according to the American Library Association. The Hunger Games focuses on a 16-year-old girl from a dystopian country who is drafted to fight other teenagers to the death in a government-sponsored reality TV competition. In 2010, The Hunger Games ranked No. 5 on the list, but with the film boosting the trilogy's profile, complaints have skyrocketed and grown more varied: "Anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence," to name a few. Do these complaints justify the books being removed from library shelves?

No. This is just silly: How can The Hunger Games make this list while the movie adaptation earned a mere PG-13 rating? asks Mike Sampson at Screen Crush. "Watching teens kill each other for sport is okay for a 13-year-old but reading about it is not?" More baffling still are some of the reasons given for attempting to ban the book. "Sexually explicit?" There's nothing that borders on sexually explicit — or "even implicit" — in the books. "The Hunger Games joins the top 10 'banned books' list" 

The content is objectionable. But the books shouldn't be banned: "As a parent, there are legitimate concerns with the book," says Charlotte Hilton Andersen at Redbook. The sheer scale of its brutal, disturbing violence should be shielded from younger children, and introduced only alongside careful conversation with parents. But that doesn't mean the books should be banned outright. The Hunger Games delves into "political and social commentary," and while not "easily grasped by innocent minds," the books hold great value to older readers. Ultimately, what kids see and read should be monitored independently by parents."Should The Hunger Games be banned from schools?" 

Take this list with a grain of salt: Let's not make a big deal out of this, says Cassie Murdoch at Jezebel. The Hunger Games is now in the esteemed company of other "objectionable" titles including Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Inclusion on this list "basically amounts to proof positive that a book is worth reading." Besides, the ALA's report reveals that many of the complaints were actually referring to the movie — gripes about the casting of dark-skinned actors, for instance — and not the novel itself. Apparently, "parents and educators are too stupid to know the difference between a book and a movie.""Parents really, really want to ban The Hunger Games trilogy"

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