If you have been or have had a child since 2008, you’ve likely heard of The Hunger Games book series. Many parents have concerns about their children reading the books because of the adult themes in the novels. What age is appropriate to read The Hunger Games?
The Hunger Games is geared towards teens ages 13 to 18. Though many children will have the skills necessary to read the books in fourth or fifth grade, most will not have the ability to understand the complex themes until seventh or eighth grade.
Read on to learn more about how you can determine if your child is ready to read The Hunger Games and what to do if you are still unsure about letting them dive into the series.
Age Ratings for The Hunger Games
When it comes to kid’s books, there are a lot of different ratings that you can consider. The Hunger Games series is rated for teens ages 13 to 18 in the seventh to twelfth grades.
However, not every child reads at the same level. So, if you want to determine if your child can read The Hunger Games, you may want to look at their reading level using the rating systems mentioned below.
It is essential to keep in mind that each of these systems measures different aspects of reading, so it may be best to use a combined approach to fully understand the child’s reading level.
One of the most popular reading rating systems in schools is the Lexile Level. The Lexile Level measures a child’s reading ability and comprehension. The framework has scores in intervals of five, ranging from the lowest level of 5L to the highest level of 2000L.
Books are classified on factors such as sentence structure and vocabulary. Using a reading measure like the Lexile Level is a great way to determine if your child will be able to read a given book. For example, if your child has a Lexile level of 600L, a book rated at 900L will likely be too difficult to read independently, while a book at 200L will be too easy.
The first Hunger Games book has a Lexile level of 810L. Therefore, any child around that reading level should be fine to read it. On average, children will be reading at an 810L level around fourth to fifth grade.
Some examples of books with similar Lexile Levels include:
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (820L)
- Matilda by Roald Dahl (840L)
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (790L)
However, when it comes to determining your child’s reading level, it isn’t just about sentence structure. Children must also be able to comprehend what they are reading. This is where the DRA reading level comes in.
The DRA reading system considers the child’s accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. The numbering system starts with A for beginners, then switches to a numeric system including ratings one to 80, with 80 being the highest.
The Hunger Games has a DRA level of 70, which falls into the average range for seventh and eighth graders of 60 to 80. Some examples of books with a 70 DRA rating that you can get on Amazon.com include:
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
- Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Guided Reading Level
Another measure that parents and teachers look to is the child’s guided reading level. This measure takes into account factors such as:
- Sentence length
- Total word count
- Number of different words
- Sentence complexity
This classification scale runs from level A (beginner readers) to level Z (high-school ready). The Hunger Games is rated a Z on this scale.
Though The Hunger Games has relatively simple sentence structures making the story easy to read, the book’s content is marketed toward older children because it is a chapter book with no pictures and a higher word count.
Some examples of other Z level books on Amazon are:
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Hunger Games Content and Themes
Though your child may be able to read The Hunger Games books, you’ll also want to consider the mature content and themes in the series. For example, if you have a much younger child that is an advanced reader, there may still be themes in this novel that they are not ready to be exposed to.
On the surface, the plot of The Hunger Games is a little dark. In this dystopian world, children are chosen to fight to the death on live television. The novel follows the main character, Katniss, who volunteered to take the place of her younger sister, who was chosen for the games.
While some parents may be uncomfortable with the violence presented in the story, the book itself is about themes such as:
When deciding if your child is old enough to read this series, it is crucial to think about their emotional maturity and if they are ready to discuss and understand these underlying themes.
Tips for Having Children Read The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is an extremely popular book and movie series, so it’s easy to see why children are drawn to it. If your child is asking about reading The Hunger Games and you are still worried about the content being too difficult or mature, here are some tips:
- Test your child’s reading level. Before giving your child any book to read on their own, you’ll want to make sure they can read it. Leaving a child to their own devices on a book way out of their reading level can harm the child’s self-esteem and desire to read. Test your child’s reading level using the assessments listed above to ensure that they are ready to read The Hunger Games.
- Read the story with them. If you are concerned about the story’s content, it may make you both feel more comfortable reading it together. This way, your child can ask any questions along the way, and you can interject or take breaks where you think necessary.
- Discuss the book with your child. If your child can read the book independently, you may still want to discuss the themes with them. Young readers can benefit from discussing what they’ve read to help them digest the information. This can also ensure that they take away the important messages presented in the book.
Though children in late elementary school will likely have the skills required to read The Hunger Games, most children cannot fully understand the themes of the books until seventh or eighth grade.
Before allowing your child to read the book, be sure that they have the skills necessary to do so and the maturity to understand the book’s content. If you are concerned about them reading the book independently, try reading the book together or discussing the book as they read it.