As you know, my son begged me to read The Hunger Games for much of this past school year. He didn’t even know what it’s about at first, but he did know it was all the buzz at elementary school. Most of his 4th grade classmates not only read it, but then watched the PG-13 movie (which is even more violent than the book). The franchise has spawned a return to hair braids in young girls’ fashion. My young niece recently attended a Hunger Games-inspired archery birthday party.
I get the funny feeling the mega-hit 50 Shades of Gray will trickle down to young readers next since so many adults are reading and talking about it. Could “whips,” “chains,” and “bondage” really become conversational terms in school lunchrooms across America?
What worries me most about seeing this book make its way to adolescents' hands is that it warps how young people see young, innocent love, turning it into something twisted and demented.
With Hunger Games and Twilight it's easier to separate reality from fiction. And adults who read 50 Shades in their book clubs, or talk about it on the phone with their friends, have the objectivity to differentiate between fact and fiction. Sadly, children do not have the same life experience on their side.