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Students Hungering for More: Making The Hunger Games Connection

When I was 11 years old I opened to the first page of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Seven books, and just as many months later, I finished the entire Chronicles of Narnia. I was completely captivated by both the incredible story and the talent that went into writing the series. I’ve since returned to that collection of books, both personally and in the classroom. A few years ago I read them aloud to my daughter, who found them just as fascinating.

As a middle school teacher I have witnessed the release of numerous young adult book series, some wildly popular and others less mainstream. None have left their mark like The Hunger Games Trilogy! It seems as if every one of my students has, or is now reading, one or more of these compelling books. More importantly, my students are talking about them! They are discussing the themes and characters with teachers, peers, and parents. They are excited!
I have always been a strong advocate for relevant and meaningful classroom instruction. Whether you are a teacher of social studies, math, science, language arts, physical education, art, or music, you can make a curricular connection to The Hunger Games. Educators across the country are using the popularity of The Hunger Games to engage their students. We can harness the excitement and energy from the books and use it in the classroom. Let’s look at a few ideas, other than basic reading comprehension discussions, relating to plot and characters.

  • Use the text as a basis for lessons in probability. 
    The way in which the main characters are chosen for the games is based upon probability. Engage your students in discussions on a mathematical level. A teacher in South Carolina has been working with the text in this way. Read about it here.
  • Discover the wonders of edible plants in your science classroom. 
    The characters in the book are forced to forage for food in order to survive. Background knowledge on what is edible in the natural world can come in quite handy. Even though the plants described in the book are fictitious, there are many species in our own world that can be identified and observed. A teacher in Texas is using this idea in the classroom. Read about it here.
  • Study songwriting from a thematic perspective.
    As with all great movies, The Hunger Games adaptation has an accompanying soundtrack that was brings together artists who have written songs based on the book. It is interesting to look at each artist’s interpretation of the themes present in the books. Taylor Swift talks about writing her song here; Miranda Lambert speaks about her writing process here. Perhaps your students are ready to compose their own lyrical songs!
  • Look to the philosophical connections made in the text.
    Students in the middle grades are often excited about discussions relating to philosophy. There are some great resources, a podcast on YouTube and a recent text The Hunger Games Philosophy, which could aid in your understanding of the connection.
  • Expose your students to social studies and discussions about government. 
    Even within the dystopian world described in the book, a government is in charge. Educators could develop a variety of lessons relating to the structure, function, and purpose of the ruling parties in the story. Topics could include resources, district boundaries, laws, and contributions, as well as class systems.

Scholastic  has developed lesson plans that are available by clicking here. I also found a website dedicated to using The Hunger Games in the classroom. You can access it here.

Lastly, there was a great blog on The New York Times website that presented great ideas, resources, and links for educators.

There are many other connections that can be made in the classroom. Educators could focus on art direction, costume design, dramatic readings and writing for the stage, photography and podcasts. In truth, there are an infinite number of curricular connections that can be made for students. The goal is to keep them engaged. Just as I was also able to witness the excitement in my own daughter’s eyes as she turned the pages each and every night, you too can harness that enthusiasm in the classroom, one student at a time. May the odds be ever in your favor!