Friday, January 1, 2010

Book Letter: The Hunger Games

Happy New Year! I hope you all have a great 2010!

There are many ways to assess students in Reader's Workshop. One form of assessment  is the Book Letter. Every two weeks, I ask the students to write a letter to me about a book they have read over the past two or three weeks. Each time I ask the students to focus on something different, and I ask them to answer different questions related to our mini lessons. Here I have posted my first example letter which I would show the students to demonstrate to them how it could be written. I have also included the task sheet/assessment checklist for your own use.

Task sheet/Assessment checklist - PDF
Task sheet/Assessment checklist - Doc

Dear class,

I am writing to tell you about a book I finished recently. The book is called The Hunger Games and it is written by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games tells the story of sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen who is keeping herself and her family in existence in Region 12, part of a world in which the Capitol is all powerful and the regions are continuously reminded of this. Each year, a terrifying reality TV show takes place: twelve boys and twelve girls – all aged under 18 are selected. In the game, they must kill or they will be killed. When Katniss’ sister is selected, Katniss comes forward to take her place, finding herself in the midst of the Hunger Games.

I have been looking at reading this book for more than six months now, but after finding good reviews on different book blogs, I knew I had to read it. I was impressed by how many good reviews it was getting, both from other famous authors like Stephen King and Stephanie Meyer and from regular readers. I also was intrigued by the premise of the story – a reality television show where people kill each other- and wanted to know how that would work.

The Hunger Games is a thriller and an adventure story, and while I do not read a lot of thrillers or adventure stories it is a genre I occasionally enjoy. I have been reading adventure stories since I was little, and I enjoy adult spy books, so The Hunger Games fit in nicely with other books that I have enjoyed. I’m not sure if I would enjoy ‘copy-cat’ books like this, though, because I think it takes a very skilled author to make this type of book work.

 I really liked the characters in this book and the relationships they had with each other. Very little of their relationships was simple; mostly things were as complex and intertwined as things are in real life. I think the relationships added some realism into an otherwise unrealistic story. I also enjoyed the way the story built up, it kept me reading right through to the end, even when I thought I knew what was coming next.

The book made me feel like I was part of the action. I think the author wanted the reader to almost feel like they were part of the audience, seeing all this unfold on a television screen. Of course, we only see things from Katniss’ point of view, which made me feel, as a reader, that I really knew her. Most of all, the book made me want to know more about Katniss, her family and her friends and the world they live in.

I have been fortunate to read the next book in the series: Catching Fire, and I cannot wait for the third book. Collins has created a world and a story which is irresistible to both young and older readers, with characters which everyone should be able to identify with. There are some themes which would provide greater understanding to older readers, but it is definitely accessible to younger readers as well. An absolutely brilliant read, which I recommend to everyone.

Please feel free to share your own reviews of The Hunger Games in the comments!


A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

Reader's Workshop Links - Short links lists to help you find more information
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