My daughter is very close to finishing the Hunger Games series. When I saw her bring the first book home from school (at the suggestion of her language arts teacher), I wasn't so sure it was such a good idea for her to read it. I mean, she's only 11 (well, nearly 12), and those books have some pretty mature themes and some pretty graphic violence. But I know making a big deal out of censoring something makes that something even more attractive, so I didn't tell her she couldn't read it. Instead, we've been talking about it some.
She's about to finish Mockingjay now (whipped through that series FAST!); in fact, she just read the part where (spoiler alert!) Prim is killed by the two-phase bomb that Gale came up with. As we were making pizzas for supper, we ended up having a conversation about war and how sometimes people who have nothing to do with the reasons for the war end up being the ones who suffer most. She kept saying, "But why bomb children?" Not in an "I don't understand" way, but in a "I do understand, but I don't get it" kind of way - the same kind of reaction I have.
It was a good opportunity to talk about something that probably never would have come up if not for her reading the book. Granted, it's not a very happy thing to talk to an 11-year-old about, but the world's not a very happy place sometimes. Maybe talking about it now can help innoculate her to the nastiness later so she can deal with it.
It seems that being prepared makes a huge difference in how she responds to something. I was really worried about how she would take Prim's death - they are basically the same age, you know, they both love cats.....Well, one day her brother (jokingly) said something about Prim dying (he hasn't even read the book), and I confirmed it, thinking someone had told him. They both looked at me in shock. Then they wanted to know how it happened, but I wouldn't tell them. I don't regret spilling the beans. I thought maybe if she knew it was going to happen, she could build the necessary defenses it would take to keep from being devastated by the death of her most beloved character. It seems to have worked. She wasn't bawling over it.
Anyway, I guess I'm glad she's read the book. But I'm more glad that I've read it so we could talk about the parts that bother her, and so I can put my own spin on those parts in helping to shape her ethical development.