A mother of an 11-year-old girl in New Hampshire has asked that Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games be removed from the school's curriculum because of its violent subject matter. The woman sounds more than a little nuts (she wants to "[remove] this filth from the school district"), and I am highly uncomfortable with her comments about "moral lessons", but the biggest thing I took away from this article was stunned disbelief: I can't believe anyone would assign The Hunger Games as required reading for kids that young. Were they trying to get parents into a tizzy?
Look, I enjoyed reading The Hunger Games, and I'm always supportive of books that encourage kids to read for pleasure. But blindly climbing aboard the latest book craze is a lazy way to get kids excited about reading, particularly when there are so many books out there that combine entertainment with educational value. If this teacher was looking for pure readability, what about the Sisters Grimm books, or Jeff Smith's Bone series, or Suzanne Collins's earlier books, the Underland Chronicles? And if they wanted to combine entertainment with a smidgen of education, what about the 39 Clues books or Margaret Peterson Haddix's Missing series... or even Laura Ingalls Wilder? I realize it might be tougher to find class prizes at Hot Topic for these titles, but on the upside I can guarantee they will rile up far fewer crazies.