Alice's Adventures in Wonderland



A classic that both adults and kids love.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Exposes kids to wordplay, crazy riddles, and nonsense poetry, as well as Victorian language and customs and a little French.

Positive messages

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is more nonsense and dreamscape than moral lesson. But it does imply the advice to, when in crazy, confusing, or challenging situations, try to keep your head (even when someone is constantly yelling "Off with her head!") and not be intimidated by outrageous characters who are insulting and threatening you and causing you trouble. In short: Roll with the punches.

Positive role models

Alice is polite, friendly, open-minded, and resilient as she navigates the chaotic world in which she's landed. She encounters all sorts of characters, some of whom are confusing, such as the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the Cheshire Cat, and some are mean, such as the Queen of Hearts.  


The Queen of Hearts frequently shouts "Off with his head!" and "Off with her head!" She orders the execution of the Cheshire Cat and threatens the Duchess and Alice with execution. The Duchess' cook throws dishes.

Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A blue caterpillar smokes a hookah. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that constantly changing predicaments, strange creatures, and the watercolors are very child-friendly. But difficult language, Carroll's nonsense poems, and adult humor will leave some children bored or confused. Still, it's a classic well worth the trouble and particularly fun as a read-aloud.

What's the story?

What strange and marvelous creatures will Alice find down the rabbit hole, and what amazing thing will happen next? The inventive language and charming fantasy make this a classic that both adults and kids love. Older ones will appreciate the satire, but some younger children will be confused or bored. Updated illustrations are appealing to children.

Is it any good?


Though there are many video versions and a lot of simplified retellings of this story, all kids deserve to know this wonderful adventure as Lewis Carroll wrote it. But it takes a particular kind of child to enjoy this: Complex language, nonsense, and the lack of a sensible plot are not to every child's taste. The book needs to be thoughtfully read aloud by an adult; few children will read this on their own. But, read aloud, the rhythmic poems can delight kids for their sounds and silly images.

The book works on two levels: as a delightful children's fantasy and as an impish poke in the eye to adults. Alice's strange new world remains just enough like the polite society of Victorian England that we can recognize it -- but it isn't terribly polite, allowing adults to understand much of the book as satire. Of course, kids usually don't see the satire; they simply enjoy the nonsense. If you've forgotten how to do that, Alice can help you remember.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the strange creatures in Wonderland. Which is the strangest?

  • Why do you think the queen is so mean? Are you confused by parts of the story? Which parts?

  • Do you like stories you don't understand right away? Why, or why not?

Book details

Author:Lewis Carroll
Illustrator:Helen Oxenbury
Genre:Literary Fiction
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:November 26, 1865
Number of pages:207
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byKaty0 October 20, 2009
Everyone with different sense of humor should read this book.
Teen, 13 years old Written byavidcritc April 9, 2008

a classic that actually is classic

some classics have been around so long that nobody but kids notice that, sadly, they are classics no longer. this is completely not the case with alice. i love it, it is timeless, and i appreciate it on a new level every time i read it.
Parent of a 4 and 8 year old Written byR. Elizabeth June 23, 2013

Read aloud captures big kids & little kids

I read this aloud on a long car trip to my just 4 year old and 8 year old. They both loved it, to my surprise the 4 year old most of all. There were enough of the lovely illustrations to keep him going and he could understand the basic plot, while she could understand the word play. There are few books that would captivate both of them and I enjoyed it as well.
What other families should know
Educational value


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