The Hunger Games: the best civics lesson since Orwell's Animal Farm?

In the Wall Street Journal today, we can't get enough of Robert Pondiscio's "'The Hunger Games' is a Civics Lesson," which highlights the ways the groundbreaking trilogy is also teaching readers important lessons about "citizenship, government power, civil liberties and the influence of the media."

Some choice quotes:

  • "Yet like the Harry Potter books, The Hunger Games is one of those rare series that motivates even the most reluctant young readers."
  • "In the case of Ms. Collins's novels, they also provide an opportunity to educate kids about the relationship between the individual and the state, personal rights and responsibilities, and the civic duties expected of citizens."
  • "Intentionally or not, the trilogy amounts to the best civics textbook since George Orwell's 'Animal Farm.'"
  • "At the most basic level, the series can help students understand various forms of government."
  • "Katniss embodies many of the civic virtues that schools seek to instill. She is independent, resourceful, brave and willing to sacrifice for others."
  • "...Teenagers are certain to recognize the conventions of reality TV and the contemporary fascination with glamor and celebrity—all of which make the televised spectacle of The Hunger Games a little too familiar for comfort."

What do you think? Is the draw of The Hunger Games more than just its plot, action, and characterization?