Time kind of stopped over here at our house on March 22nd in anticipation of the movie release of "The Hunger Games" on March 23rd.
I have done what I set out to do: create a house of readers.
When I taught middle school English, I kept seeing this black book in the hands of some very reluctant readers.
So of course, I was curious. Those reluctant readers always have it right. It was gripping. I ripped through it. Then I started the next one, "Catching Fire". Then I had to order the hardback of "Mockingjay" because it wasn't even out yet in paperback. I became a die hard fan of Suzanne Collins.
I wasn't sure my boys, in 4th and 6th grades then, were ready for the book. But they thought they were. But it's not for the faint of heart. It tackles some serious issues. There is death. Evil. But there's also Love. And Good. But I hesitated. Instead, I looked in to what else Suzanne Collins had written and found the "Gregor the Overlander" series.
These, her first books, are geared towards a younger audience and have a boy and his baby sister as the main characters. I bought the first few in the series from Half Price Books (one of my favorite places in the world) and the twins started reading them.
I held out on "The Hunger Games" until this school year, when they were in 5th and 7th grades. A bit older. And I knew the movie would be coming out. We started reading "The Hunger Games" aloud - a few chapters every night. They were hooked, just as I had been. While Husband was away at sea, he listened to "Catching Fire" on his computer while we read it aloud at home. And when he returned, we began "Mockingjay".
As the movie release date approached, we looked at all of the things we had going on and realized that we didn't have time to see the movie on Friday after school because of a baseball tournament. Saturday morning was out. Sunday afternoon was their end-of-season basketball party and confirmation class. I began eyeing the midnight showings on Thursday night (technically March23rd). Husband and I thought it would be fun, if not crazy, to keep them up that late on a school night, and the boys seemed somewhat excited. They really wanted to see it and be able to talk about it at school the next day with friends.
They went to bed like normal - but in their clothes - and Husband went and bought the tickets at about 9:00 - the theater was already packed and people were claiming seats. We started to wonder if we'd made a mistake. We couldn't hang with a bunch of teenagers. But we stuck it out. We woke the boys and got up there about 45 minutes early and luckily found seats all together, but then had to wait because, well, we were 45 minutes early. I think Reid fell back asleep sitting up. Hayden and I ate a bunch of popcorn. To stay awake, of course.
During the movie, Hayden remarked on each thing that was changed in the transition from the book to the screen.
"That's not how she got the Mockingjay pin!"
"Why are they making that sign? They're not supposed to do that until Rue's district."
"Where's the sleeping syrup?"
"The mutts aren't supposed to look like that!"
Despite all of that chatter, he loved it. We gave our kids the experience of opening night at a movie theater with a movie they'd been anticipating. A movie that was first in their minds and on the pages of a book.
Husband managed to get them up the next morning with the lure of pancakes and bacon and they went off to school with minimal grumpiness - so it was a success, in my opinion. And the boys were able to talk about it at school. One of Reid's teachers had actually seen us there and was impressed that we were such fans.
"Tired today, Reid?" she asked him. He smiled but was puzzled, wondering how she knew.
"I saw you last night at the theater. I was there, too!" She climbed right up to favorite teacher status.
And that was the point, after all. To make them feel what it's like to read a book and be able to share that experience with other people. It connects you. And you have to work at it a little. It's not without effort. But it's worth it. It's really worth it.
Okay, maybe it's worth it. This picture shows how grumpy Reid was because it was 2:00 in the morning. The glare of the porch light is really bright at 2:00 in the morning. . .But the rest of us look pretty happy, don't we?