"The Hunger Games"broke the record for a non-sequel last weekend with a $153 million haul at the box office in the U.S. and Canada.
For some school kids around the country, the odds have been in their favor as they’ve scored the ultimate field trip—an outing to “The Hunger Games.” Field trips to see the blockbuster movie have dovetailed with the introduction of the books into school curricula, despite concerns from some parents that the material might not be appropriate for children.
“All of my friends who don’t go to my school are all really jealous,” said 15-year-old David Schwartz. He was among about 500 ninth-grade English students from New Rochelle High School in suburban New York City who were taken to the movie on opening day March 23.
Lexis Eberly was among 120 seventh-graders treated to opening day from Tuslaw Middle School in Massillon, Ohio. Her review: “If I had the chance, I would go see the movie 20 more times!”
For both, the field trip was the result of a blockbuster movie coinciding with their curriculum: They were assigned “The Hunger Games,” the first book in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy, as summer reading heading into the school year.
In New Rochelle, the book has anchored much of the work in freshman English since the first day of school. Students have written letters from the point of view of main characters and created maps of the arena where kids fight other kids to the death as the bawdy ruling class watches on TV in Collins’ dystopian world.
Some teachers and parents said they hoped the field trips would help their reluctant readers.
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 the movie.
“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.
Mered Kopstein, one of the New Rochelle teachers who arranged private screenings at a local theater, said the outing achieved something else at her school, where more than 3,000 students are broken into smaller “learning communities”: It provided a rare chance to bring them together through text they’ve all devoured.