The Secret Garden

Book review by Katherine Kearns, Common Sense Media
The Secret Garden Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 9+

Classic novel inspires love of nature.

Parents say

age 8+

Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 10+

Based on 39 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+

Strong Themes of Death and Parental Abandonment and Neglect

I recently read this with my advanced 5yo daughter. While she liked the book, and found it readable and easy to follow -the abridged version we read doesn't have many complicated metaphors or inferred settings- I was quite surprised by the emphasis on death and neglect in the book. It opens plainly stating that the main character, Mary, is not wanted by either of her parents. That cheery note is immediately followed by Mary's entire household dying from what I assume to be cholera or the like, while the little girl spends at least a day, likely more, alone in a room. She is subsequently shipped off to two households of strangers, and finally meets a boy of her age who spends a lot of time talking about not growing up, having a fatal illness, his mother's death, and how his father doesn't like him. All that said, my daughter didn't seem phased by these details and happily finished the book. My guess is that she is too young to fully process the implications and nature of neglect, parental abandonment, and untimely death. I do, however, have friends whose young children would have nightmares, anxiety, and ask endless questions about death if they were introduced to this book too early. If you are thinking of reading this to your young child, and you know they are sensitive, I would encourage you to read the book ahead first. I have also heard that different editions of this book are more specific than others about the darker parts of this book, so you may be able to find a more child friendly version than I have.
1 person found this helpful.
age 10+

Middle schoolers will love a touch of mystery and fantasy while solving real problems in positive ways.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Book Details

Our Editors Recommend

For kids who love magic and the power of imagination

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

  • Cartoon hands high fiving
    Friendship
    See all
  • Cartoon picture of a beaker
    Science and Nature
    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