Monday, May 14, 2012

Know Thy Kid

So my Son is 10.5 years old (the .5 matters to him. a lot). He has a college age reading level, but is still a little pre-teen sweetheart. I say this because the entire middle school recently adopted The Hunger Games as a school-wide read, and then they had some "hunger games" activities. (No, they didn't provide weapons or a style team.) As a result of the publicity that earned, many of the upper elementary students have been wanting to read the books. My son is finishing up 4th grade. Several of his mates have read the book. My son is begging to read it/them. He is not used to being the last to read something... he enjoys his status as a reader of all things. That's why he purchased his own kindle with his own birthday money. Sidebar: when you have two kindles on the same amazon account, don't be fooled by the question "where do you want this purchase sent?" Because specifing ONE kindle doesn't mean squat. My son, unbeknownst to me, had ALL my books in the "archived items" section of HIS kindle, and was merrily reading them. We discovered this when I asked what he had been reading in order to fill out the school weekly reading sheet and he said "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Fortunately, he hadn't made it past page 10. He now needs permission to download anything from Archived Items. But anyway, I find myself in the awkward position of trying to compare disturbing scenes to determine if he's up for it or not. I mean: the peeled baby thing in Harry Potter... pretty disturbing, right? But is that of the same caliber as THG? The title is there, in his Archived Items, of course. I wonder if it's only a matter of time before he takes matters into his own hands, and then he won't even feel he can ask questions about the book because he'll be reading it against our wishes. HHm. Advice?


  1. I swear to you, there are actual paragraphs in the editor. I even went back in and doubled the line breaks... WYSWYG is a misnomer in this case, sorry.

  2. Giggling over his wanting to put The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on his reading list. Kind of want to know what the teacher would have said to that. ;)

    But to your question...maybe you just have to trust your intuition as to what you think he's "ready" for. Or you could read together and discuss throughout?

    Am looking forward to seeing what you hear from others, too.

  3. Hey CK, Well we do know what his reading teacher said to that... she KNEW he was reading it, and said "oh, yeah, you seem like the kind of kid who would read that." We did not know what to make of that... except that perhaps she hadn't read it either, and was commenting that his reading tastes were cosmopolitan? We hastened to let her know (recently, at a restaurant, where she was obviously preferring to be left alone to eat) that we had no knowledge of the fact that he was reading it.

    I was sure to check out 50 Shades as an actual honest-to-goodness paperback to avoid the whole kindle debacle again though!

    But I do like the co-read idea. That could work pretty well... He's not the sneaky type, but I think having a book he so badly wants to read right there on his kindle might just tip him over the edge. If I promise to read it with him when I get back from Paraguay, that would be good.

  4. I read things that were far beyond my years when I was 10. I didn't really "get" them sometimes, but I read them nonetheless. Sure, I picked up on plot and so on. But I didn't understand the deeper implications of things going on in the books. That said, I am not sure that a 10.5 year old will understand the politics in THG, but he'd probably be fascinated with the premise.

    I don't know... I think letting kids read things like this helps them be less sheltered and more prepared for the real world. Not that the "real world" is going to capture your kid and send him off to fight against peers to the death. But I think that kids face a lot of sinister foes in the classroom and/or in other associations. They get manipulated a lot and have to use critical thinking skills before they are really capable of non-black-and-white thinking.

    THG is violent, sure, but it's also tame as far as sex goes, unlike Battle Royale, which is a Japanese book/film that has Hunger Games similarities (published in 1999). The messages in THG are good for the most part. I'd say go ahead and let him read it, but I'd also advocate for reading it alongside him and talking about it. In fact, I'm surprised you haven't read it yourself already. (Or have you?)

    One thing is for sure -- nothing prompts a kid to read something more than forbidding a kid to read it.

  5. That's a tricky one. When I learned that sixth graders were reading it, I thought *that* was a bit young, but now I'm realizing that sixth grade is normal for THG. I would not encourage a fourth-grader to read the book, but as Fie says, sometimes forbidding something doesn't really work so well either.

    As your post title implies, *you* can answer this question better than anyone because you know your kid. How does he react to violence and intensity? My kids totally try to avoid it. I'm trying to get them (ages 9 and 7) to agree to read the first Harry Potter book together this summer. But they say, "No, Mom! Are you kidding?! That's for big kids and it's SCARY!"

    They have seen the movie previews for some of the later ones, so I don't blame them for thinking that. And Saturday night, my daughter was up with nightmares from watching Rango. I doubt there is anyway my Boy would be ready for THG next year, but perhaps your Boy IS ready.

    Have you discussed your concerns with him? If so, what does he say?

    (BTW, for how long are you in Paraguay?!)

  6. Fie, you're right, of course! I forgot my Bluebeard for a minute there, but the attraction will be so much stronger if we ask him not to read it. He can't handle gore (as discovered when 1) on a sleepover someone made him watch House and 2) he fainted while his trout was being gutted in NZ last year)... but THG is tame on the gore, despite the premise.

    I've certainly read it, multiple times. Haven't taught it yet like you, but it was one of my early YA binges when I crossed over into this field! I'm re-reading it now and trying to envisage my son's responses to various things. I'm more inclined to let him, I think, but I'd rather I was there when he does. It's probably part of a bigger discussion I should have I guess: read anything, but if you have questions or concerns, please discuss.

    My daughter self-polices. She hasn't wanted to go past the middle of HP book 3 for about a year now. With son, we told him he had to read each book in the HP series before he could watch the respective film of that book. He held himself back from 7 for about a year, only reading it before the final film in the series was released. I guess he knows his own self too!

  7. GEW, I think that's part of my concern. The whole "10 is the new 14" and all that! When we asked him not to continue reading GWDT, my husband said a lot of things about how it depicts sex, and the worst of human nature... I just said "it's worse than House" and that was enough to get him to say he had no intention of reading further!

    I have 3 more weeks in PY. It was a 3 week trip that turned into 4. For some reason, the idea of that extra week (and the fact that I miss our annual family trip to Louisiana as a result) just kills! But I'm trying to make the most of it, and learning to drive an ipad with some modicum of skill before taking it on sabbatical in July! (Sucks to be me, right?!)

  8. "oh, yeah, you seem like the kind of kid who would read that" = maybe she meant, oh, it's popular right now and you keep up with things? Or you seem like the kind of kid who is sophisticated enough to read above your grade level?

    ps: I would probably faint if I saw a trout being gutted, too. ;)

  9. CK, we hope that's what she meant... because otherwise she'd be having a We Have to Talk About Kevin moment... argh.

    Yeah, I had a harder time watching daughter bludgeon hers though! The trout guide helping her had to stay her hand... I guess she's the one to watch!