- "The reaping is a good opportunity for the Capitol to keep tabs on the population as well. Twelve- through eighteen-year-olds are herded into roped areas marked off by ages, the oldest in the front, the young ones, like Prim, toward the back."
- ―Katniss telling about the reaping[[src]]
Each district's escort randomly chooses the name of one male and one female tribute from two separate glass balls. Those picked are then the official tributes for the upcoming Games. To be qualified for a reaping, one must be twelve years old. Once of age, a potential-tribute's name is entered into the reaping one time. The entries are cumulative, so when a possible tribute is thirteen, their name is added one more time. This continues until age 18, when a potential-tribute's name is entered 7 times, or more if they apply for tesserae.
Each age group is contained in roped-off areas in the town square, waiting for someone to be picked. The reapings take place at different times in different districts, so that Capitol citizens can watch them all live on television. Many members of the public, who show little to no sympathy for the potential tributes, often place bets on who will be chosen. Unless someone is already on their deathbed, they receive the death penalty for not attending their district's reaping.
The District 12 reaping takes place in the center of town that called Hall of Justice. On 74th Hunger Games, Escort of District 12, Effie Trinket picked Primrose Everdeen as a "Tribute Girl" and Peeta Mellark as a "Tribute Boy".
VolunteeringIf someone so chooses, they may volunteer to take the place of a tribute who is selected. This is often done by Career Tributes who spend their lives training to compete in the Hunger Games. It is sometimes done for other reasons though, such as when Katniss Everdeen volunteered to protect her reaped sister, Prim.
The volunteering process is simple in most districts, especially the later numbered ones. But in earlier numbered districts, such as the Career districts, (1, 2, and 4) volunteering is a more complicated process since participating in the Games is seen as an honor and victors are highly respected and have great prestige.
For the residents of various districts, any child between the ages of twelve through eighteen, if it is needed, can apply for tesserae. This supplies them with a meager year's supply of grain and oil. They can choose to do this for each of their family members as well. However, each tesserae they sign up for puts another slip with their name in the reaping glass jar. It is also cumulative, so Katniss Everdeen, when she was sixteen, had her name put in the glass ball twenty times. Gale Hawthorne, who has five family members including himself, had his name put in the glass ball forty-two times. The amount of tesserae taken is larger in Panem's poorer districts, such as District 12.
- Main article: Quarter Quell
Every 25 years, the tributes are chosen in an alternate manner. The instructions for that year are specified inside a special envelope read by the president ahead of time.
In the reaping of the 25th Hunger Games, contestants were chosen by the residents of their district rather than drawn from the reaping ball.
In the reaping of the 50th Hunger Games, two tributes were drawn from each reaping ball rather than the usual one tribute, causing there to be 24 extra tributes fighting in the arena, registering a total of 48 tributes. This is the Games where Haymitch Abernathy competed with Maysilee Donner, resulting in Haymitch as the victor. He won by outsmarting the other tributes and by using the forcefield.
In the 75th Hunger Games, the pool of available tributes shrunk rapidly as only previous victor's names were in the reaping balls. In some districts, such as District 12, there were few living victors of each gender, and in District 12's case, there was only one female and two males such as Katniss, Haymitch and Peeta, but it was easily decided which male would be in the Games. Additionally, because most victors had won their games years ago, most were older than the usual twelve to eighteen years old; one tribute, Mags was 80 years old. Peeta and Katniss were the youngest tributes in the 75th Hunger Games, winning the year before. During the reaping on District 12, Effie Trinket picked Katniss and Haymitch, but Peeta volunteered for Haymitch.