Reflection: Be Your Own Katniss
Katniss Everdeen did not choose to be a hero. No, she was chosen to be a statement and then she chose to rise to the occasion. She didn’t pick up her bow and arrow and say, “hey, let’s overthrow this corrupt government.” In a moment born out of love and selflessness, she chose to volunteer and take the place of her sister. It did not start out as the big movement that it would be become, it was a little step born out of genuine emotion. As you read through the Hunger Game series it is easy to forget how the story of Katniss begins because the story becomes so much greater than that moment; but it is that moment that changes everything.
Everywhere you look these days people are talking about The Hunger Games, which I think is a good thing. It is awesome when literature
inspires and a community of people come together from near and far to share what a book means to them. I had a moment like that this weekend. You see, out of pure love and devotion and sacrifice (very Katniss like), I spent the weekend Girl Scout camping. In nature. Without technology. This camping weekend consisted of somewhere around 40 preteen girls and their moms and rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain. All of us stuck together inside a cabin. At one point we joked that it was our own version of a dystopian novel. Call us District 14, the cookie selling district. (Although it should be noted that there were no cookies there which was unfortunate. 40 preteen girls eat. A lot.)
Eventually it stopped raining enough – just a drizzle – that we could bundle up and go exploring through the woods and trails and pretend we were Katniss. Which we did. And then, there were archery lessons. Woohoo. (Bonus knowledge: the feathers on the end of an arrow are called fletchings.) As we stood there pulling back our bow, I contemplated what it must be like to be a hero. Then I had an amazing thought: Yes, Katniss is a good role model, but I don’t want teens to aspire to be Katniss, but to be their own version of Katniss. I don’t want them to look for a hero, but to rise to the occasion and be their own hero.
Some people choose greatness. They wake up one day and decide they are going to be a leader or a healer or an artist. For others, greatness is thrust upon them out of circumstance. This was certainly the case for Katniss. She did not set out to save the world, she simply set out to save her sister. Somewhere along the way she became more than a sister but the representative for a movement. That is the way it is for most of us in life. We make small decisions and they can have tremendous impact. You can decide to be a friend to the outcast at school. You can choose not to go along when someone around you is being bullied. You can see a need in your community and start a project to change it. Every day we have the opportunity to be Katniss (or Peeta if you so choose) in our daily lives. And the best part is, chances are good you won’t have to go into an arena and fight to the death to do it.
So today, make a decision to be your own Katniss, whatever form that takes. Rise to the occasion. Be your own hero. I like to think that occasionally I have been Katniss to the teens in my life; not with a bow and an arrow, but with a book. The right book in the right hands can make all the difference.
So today, be your own Katniss. Be the hero in your own story. May the odds be forever in your favor.
For more Hunger Games, please see my previous post Feed Their Hunger for the Hunger Games, with program planning activities and more.
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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