I finished The Hunger Games series last September. My friends and husband had taken me on a surprise road trip to Salem for my birthday, and they had distracted me from noticing that we were traveling east into Massachusetts (instead of into Southern New York) by providing me with a copy of Catching Fire. I had finished The Hunger Games in June, and for a variety of reasons had not yet started the second book—I hadn’t even purchased it. It wasn’t for a lack of desire to continue the series; mostly, I think that I had seen the honesty with which Suzanne Collins had approached the first novel, and I was scared where this attitude might take the story.
Needless to say, I devoured the book. I reached the halfway point just as we entered Salem. We spent the day walking around the town and visiting the museums. That night we went on a ghost tour. When we got back to our hotel room, everyone else fell asleep (we had an early morning and a long day of walking) while I stayed up to finish the book. The next day, we went apple picking and got lost in a corn maze. I hijacked my friend’s copy of Mockingjay for the ride home. I finished the book later that night.
It would be an understatement to say that I was a wreck. I like happy endings. I can deal with loss, and death, and sadness, as long as at the end good triumphs over evil. To me, no one won at the end of Mockingjay.
It felt so sad, so hopeless in those hours after I finished the book. I couldn’t let it end like that. I needed to give myself a happy ending.
The Hunger Games series is a book about many things, but for me the realistic depiction of how poverty and oppression go hand in hand was at the heart of the books. The districts were easily manipulated by the Capitol not only by a deprivation of resources, but also (and more importantly) by a deprivation of information. It is not until the Districts gain the ability to learn and communicate with one another that the Rebellion is born.
Education powers revolutions.
That night, I went on donorschoose.org, a website created to help teachers who work in the poorest schools in the country, to get the materials they need to ensure their students get the best education possible. That night I found this teacher, Ms. O, and her request for a classroom set of The Hunger Games so that she could use the book to open up discussions about social justice issues:
“My Students: My Latino and African-American students attend a high poverty school in New York City.
They are 13 going on 14, have a nose for injustice, and love to argue. I need The Hunger Games to give their voices a focus. After I discussed the book on the first day of school, they were hooked. They would love a chance to investigate a current social issue and try to solve it. As we will read this novel later in the year, they will also have a chance to apply their Social Studies lessons.
My Project: The Hunger Games is a dystopian novel full of social issues that the students will identify and define. For each issue, they will need to explain how external events shaped it, how it shapes a character’s choices and relationships with others, and how it inspires characters to act and change their social environments. At the end, they will choose a social issue we face (problem) and think of ways to change it (solution). The unit not only allows them to examine how literature reflects society, it helps them see the complexities of real social issues. By discussing the issues and thinking of creative solutions, they are laying the groundwork for a better future.
Unfortunately, my school does not have the money to purchase 35 books. Reading is fundamental to a good education. Please help me provide my students with the resources necessary to foster my students' minds!”
I donated to her classroom that night, and over the next three days spammed my facebook friends and family in order to get the project funded. Those kids getting to read The Hunger Games and use them to talk about the social justice issues in our world turned out to me the best happy ending I could have asked for.
Last week, I wrote a blog where I ended by calling any fans of the series into action. If you are ready to be a part of the rebellion, visit the site below. It is a link to another classroom asking for a class set of The Hunger Games. There is a little over $100 to go before the project will be fully funded—her request will expire in three days.
If you are ready to fight injustice and oppression alongside Katniss, then visit and give what you can. Let’s start changing our future by changing one classroom at a time.
Here’s the site:
When you post, include: “I gave to this project because I'm with the Mockingjay, and support a literacy revolution in American classrooms,” in your personal message.
Viva la Revolution!