First published in 2008 by Scholastic, The Hunger Games had an initial print order of just 50,000 copies. Now available in 26 languages and in 38 countries, each of the Hunger Games trilogies have been #1 on New York Times bestseller lists, selling more than 26 million copies in the U.S. alone. As the movie started generating buzz in 2011, more and more young adults developed interest in the series. This ripple effect resulted in an explosive opening weekend of $153 million in North America for the first Hunger Games film.
Librarians, educators and parents everywhere felt the excitement as children who normally don’t view reading as their free time activity of choice flocked to the shelves to get their hands on the phenomenon, unable to put the book down and eager to join discussion groups and reading contests — anything that involved their beloved Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games even became a part of school curriculum around the country. Brigid Barry, the English program administrator at Greenwich High School in Connecticut, said about 50 ninth- through 12th-graders from Literacy Workshop, a program at the school, were treated to a field trip to see The Hunger Games on opening day. Teachers and parents said they hoped the field trips would help their children develop a love for reading.
“Sometimes you get a kid in the program who has never read a full book, so to see them excited to read this one, to accomplish that, is really something,” Barry said.
In New Rochelle, the book has anchored much of the work in freshman English since the first day of school. They’ve written letters from the point of view of main characters and created maps of the arena where the battles take place.
Tool kits for teachers looking to hop on The Hunger Games bandwagon are all over the Internet. Some teachers have made quick classroom lessons of the movie after students returned from the film.
“If I was not in Literacy Workshop this year, I might not have read this book, but I would have seen the movie,” 16-year-old Sydney Curley, a sophomore at Greenwich High, wrote to her teacher. She added, “I think people watching the movie without having read the book would miss out on a lot of the underlying feelings of the characters.”
In the years since The Hunger Games were published, we have seen more and more young adults excited to pick up a book, and that is truly a reason to celebrate!