Animal Farm

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Animal Farm Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Classic satirical allegory about the abuse of power.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 63 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

George Orwell's novel, about totalitarianism in general and Stalinism in particular, is one of the most famous satires in the English language. It comments on Soviet Russia specifically and human folly in general.

Positive Messages

The main message of Animal Farm is pretty bleak, in essence, "Don't let this happen." Most of the animals mean well and want their farm to succeed, but none are a match for the treachery of their leaders.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the characters in Animal Farm care about their community, but few are intellectually equipped to see how they are being exploited until it is too late. For example, Boxer the horse is steadfast in his support of the farm and pushes himself to great acts of strength for the good of all. But even he is unprepared for his ultimate fate once he is no longer needed.


The animals rebel against their human master and chase him from the farm. When Farmer Jones returns with his neighbors, the animals attack the intruders and inflict various bites and cuts on them. Later, the pigs use their guard dogs to keep order on the farm. Some animals are executed for crimes for which they have supposedly confessed. The violence in the novel is not described in detail, but its emotional implications might be upsetting to some readers.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Even though the use of alcohol is prohibited on the farm, the pigs eventually feel free to get drunk whenever the mood strikes them.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Animal Farm is a biting satire of totalitarianism, written in the wake of World War II and published amid the rise of Soviet Russia. Although it tells a fairly simple story of barnyard animals trying to manage themselves after rebelling against their masters, the novel demonstrates how easily good intentions can be subverted into tyranny.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bythebookreviewer02 December 21, 2014

Appropriate for almost any age, but it will be spoiled if you don't get the message!

This is truly a masterpiece, and, if you choose to read it, you will know the basic gist of Soviet Russia and totalitarianism, both incredibly complex issues, i... Continue reading
Parent Written byMartin C. May 1, 2017

Book Review: Animal Farm

The animals of the Manor Farm lived badly. Their farmer Mr. Jones, a mean and drunken man, exploited them. One day Old Major, the pig who led the animals, calle... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written September 20, 2015

Read below if you want a correct review...

First of all, it is called a novella! Moving on, kids have to have a sense of maturity when reading this novella. It is a satire of totalitarianism. It is about... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byNON EXISTANTs April 6, 2021

To help kids understand the dangers of authoritarianisim

teaches kids about the dangers of authoritarianisim, recomend to all kids

What's the story?

After years of oppression by Farmer Jones, the animals on his farm rise up and chase him away. They plan to run the farm themselves, for their own benefit. At first, the animals are able to work together and support each other. Gradually, however, the pigs begin making helpful suggestions about how the farm should be run. Before long, the pigs are at the top of the social ladder and the rest of the livestock are wondering what happened.

Is it any good?

The story and language are very simple, but Orwell is unnervingly precise in the way he depicts each step on the road from revolution to tyranny. ANIMAL FARM has been popular and highly acclaimed since its publication in 1945. In 2005, Time magazine chose it as one of the 100 best English-language novels, and the book ranks at 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th Century Novels. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what totalitarianism means, how it shaped the 20th century, and whether it still exists today.

  • As the pigs grow more powerful, they find a number of animals who seem willing to confess to the most horrendous crimes, even though they know they will be executed for their supposed crimes. Do criminal confessions always contain the complete truth? Why might a suspect confess to crime he or she did not commit?

  • Soon after they take over the farm, the animals agree to follow "The Seven Commandments." The rules seem fairly basic, but they are changed over the course of the novel. How do leaders today change the rules to achieve their own agendas?

  • One of the novel's most famous quotes is "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others." What might that paradoxical statement mean?

  • Why do you think Animal Farm is often required reading in school?

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