My 12-year-old daughter is a reluctant reader. She's perfectly capable of reading. She just chooses not to. This week, however, she's been reading up a storm. We finally found a book she is interested in reading. That book? The Hunger Games.
A little over a year ago, I wrote a post about why I wouldn't let her read The Hunger Games at that time. The gist of it was that she was too young and not ready for the themes and imagery in the books. A lot has changed in a little more than a year.
After I told my daughter she couldn't read the series last spring, she kind of lost interest in them. Some of her friends read them in the fall, and she didn't even ask to read them. But a week ago, she came to me and asked if she could read the books, and this time, I said yes.
I've read the books. I didn't expect to like them. I read them simply to know what they were about. But I found that despite all I had heard about them, these books are well-written with a compelling story line. They contain some violence (but much less than I expected), but they raise important questions about the role of government in our lives, whether it's worth giving up freedom to be safe and how we dehumanize others through our choice of entertainment. These are all themes that I think are worth exploring with our kids.
My daughter has changed a lot in the past year. She's learned a lot about life. She's matured a lot. She's taken a bigger interest in the events of the world around her. I felt like she was ready.
But here's what's most important about her reading these books. She's not reading them in a vacuum. I've read the books. We're talking about them every single step of the way. And we're talking about them in the context of what's going on in the world today and what God expects of us.
The Hunger Games isn't for everyone. It's not for every child. Your family has to decide whether to let your kids read them. And that choice may change as your kids get older. It may not. The important thing to remember when we make choices about what our kids see and hear is that we have to act as filters for them. We have to keep them engaged in the conversation. We have to weigh it all against what God wants for us.
No matter what our kids are doing, reading, watching or listening to, we have to be engaged with them. We have to be talking to them about their choices and their understanding of what they see and hear. God put us in their lives to help them learn to filter everything through His lens. We can only do that when we're engaging with our kids.
And when you're making those decisions, remember not to judge others who make a different decision. There's no commandment in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not read The Hunger Games." We all have to make decisions for our families based on prayer and an understanding of our own kids. That means those decisions will be different for every family. We need to not judge other families when they make a different decision from the one we make. We can have conversations about the decisions we make, but we need to be able to have them without judgment.
In whatever choices you are making for and with your kids this week, remember to keep them engaged in talking about the things that are going on in their lives and make a decision not to judge other families who may make a different choice.