One of the reasons I love stories that continue over a series is that I have a hard time letting go of well-written characters and plot lines. After seeing The Hunger Games on Tuesday night, I’ve been trying to find ways to relive the excitement of seeing the film by rereading the trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins. Here are some other ideas to help keep you in the Panem spirit.
Bread and Circuses
The name of Panem comes from the Latin for bread and circuses, which is all you need to keep a country going successfully. Bread may not have factored into the movie, but in the books Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son, gives bread a lot of significance. Each district has a different kind of bread–after Rue dies in the first book, the people of her district send bread to Katniss as a thank you. By having food play such a significant role in both culture and class (the poor eat less-desirable bread than the rich), Collins truly develops the world of Panem (which, by the way, stands for the “bread” in “bread and circuses”). To help get your family involved in the world of Panem, why not take a page out of Peeta’s book and bake some bread? If you’re looking for ideas, try Whats4Eats’s great assembly of bread recipes from all around the world. While your bread is busy rising and baking, talk to your kids about why the bread you’ve made has the ingredients that it does (which probably has something to do with availability of ingredients).
Quite a bit of The Hunger Games narrative is taken up by the tributes training for the games. Whether its learning to tie knots or how to fire a bow and arrow, there are plenty of possibilities for your family to try some of the things that the tributes do. Check out animated knots for a great how-to guide of useful (and beautiful) knots, or try to find a local archery range where you can rent a bow and arrows for the afternoon and get in some target practice. Or, if you’re looking for a longer-term commitment, why not try signing up for a martial arts class and improve your hand-to-hand combat skills?
Take a Hike
Once the tributes are in the arena, survival skills become just as important as fighting skills. Luckily, you don’t have to be put into an arena to experience the thrill of the great outdoors. Find a local park (if you’re in WNY, try Letchworth or Allegheny State Parks) and make a day out of exploring your natural environment. If you’re feeling particularly motivated, why not try taking a weekend class? Many parks offer birdwatching expeditions or plant identification walks.
Make a Masterpiece
Although Katniss doesn’t really embrace her quest to find a talent, Peeta develops his skills as an artist and creates not only beautiful cookies, but also magnificent paintings that help him deal with the lingering emotions from the Games. Try getting out some paints (if you’re just starting out, why not try some cheap watercolors?) and some paper (or a canvas, if you’re feeling particularly motivated), and create a masterpiece. If you’re looking for inspiration, why not try painting or sketching a scene from the novels or film?
If you can’t seem to let go of the world of Panem, why not try writing your own stories based in Collins’s world? The world of fan fiction is exceptionally active online, and plenty of enthusiastic fans and talented writers are borrowing Collins’s genius to create their own literary works. Try writing a scene from the books from another character’s perspective, or extend the storyline into the future or the past.
Train, Train, Rolling Down the Track
One of the greatest thrills of going to the Capital is that Peeta and Katniss get to ride on a luxurious train. While some people are used to riding on trains, for many of us who don’t live in large cities the idea of riding a train is still exciting. Check out Scenic Rail Excursions to find a railroad that offers a scenic trip near you!
One of the things I looked forward to the most about The Hunger Games film was seeing how they portrayed the Capital residents. I was not disappointed. While it may seem a little early, why not try starting to plan your Halloween costume early and create an outlandish look? Go overboard with your make-up and bright clothing! Start shopping now so that your outfit can be truly worthy of the Hunger Games by Halloween!
Katniss may deny it, but throughout the books she becomes a pretty skilled healer. Gain some healing skills yourself by taking a First Aid course. The American Red Cross offers lots of different options for courses, everything from Swimming and Water Safety and Babysitting to Wilderness First Aid and Pet First Aid. Check out their website to find a course in your area!
This is a little more involved, but why not try taking a weekend camping trip? You’ll probably want your accommodations to more comfortable than those offered in the arena, so don’t forget a tent and sleeping bags!
Start a Book Club
Bond with friends and family members by starting a Hunger Games book club. Start by reading (or re-reading) all the Hunger Games novels, and then move on to other books (consider other dystopian YA novels, including The Giver by Lois Lowry or, for older readers, 1984 by George Orwell). Try arranging a group outing to see the movie.
What are other ideas you have for staying in The Hunger Games spirit?