The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1

Book review by Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1 Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 9+

A cliff-hanging orphan adventure wrapped in black humor.

Parents say

age 8+

Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 9+

Based on 87 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Stands out for and .

Community Reviews

age 8+

My Childhood Favorite is Now my Son’s

I rated this for 8+ but I think it’s dependent on your child. I started with my 3 and 6 year old but I forgot how dark it is. It’s too much for my younger child so I now only read it to my 6 year old who is very mature and understanding at his age. We just finished up a chapter tonight and he ran to the kitchen and grabbed a flashlight to read under his covers, just like one of the main characters, Klaus. I love that he can identify with such awesome child characters, learn new language, and follow optimistically along with a rather dark plot. He asked for me to buy all of the books and read them all to him.

This title has:

Educational value
Great role models
age 8+

A Great Beginning, (if you want your kids to be excited about reading)....

My daughter absolutely loved the series. I read one them to her when she was seven, but she started reading them on her own at 8. However she was a greater reader so you might want to start it little later. I have fond memories of her excitement when I used to surprise her by leaving a new volume on her bed for her to read before sleep. I think she read through them all three times. She liked the plotting and the genre (its gothic) but most of all she loved the playful use of language. She now writes her own stories for enjoyment and I have to give this series some of the credit. She turns sixteen today and I have been doing a indoor scavenger hunt for her birthday since she can remember birthdays. Social distancing practices are preventing me from seeing her today so forgive me if I use this site to leave the next clue for her digital version. Happy Birthday Anna!!! Think of a lullaby that I used to sing before bed One with so few words, that even I know them dead. Roxanne's star sang it in Housesitter, that's your tip Look on a femalesheepbritishsubway for a funnymovieclip

Book Details

Our Editors Recommend

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

  • Cartoon magic wand on orange background
    Magic and Fantasy
    See all
  • Cartoon picture of luggage and a map
    See all
  • Cartoon picture of a sister and brother holding hands
    Brothers and Sisters
    See all
  • Cartoon picture of the side profile of a boy
    Great Boy Role Models
    See all
  • Cartoon picture of a girl
    Great Girl Role Models
    See all

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate