Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Book review by
Stephany Aulenback, Common Sense Media
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Classic morality tale is wildly entertaining.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 25 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 75 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Spoiled, greedy children will get their just desserts, but dreams will come true for the honest and pure-hearted.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sweet, well-behaved Charlie possesses strength of character that the other children lack. Born and raised in poverty, Charlie truly appreciates every gift life gives him, and he remains honest despite the temptation to betray his hero.

Violence & Scariness

While citizens around the world frantically search for golden tickets, a gangster robs a bank and uses the stolen money to buy a large amount of candy bars. Mike Teavee watches western movies in which cowboys shoot at each other. Wonka makes "exploding sweets for your enemies." Children who disobey Willy Wonka's rules are punished in ways that might be a little alarming but don't seem to cause any pain. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a classic children's book about five kids who win a chance to tour Willy Wonka's mysterious candy-making operation. It's a vividly told wild ride with amusing, cartoon-like sketches that will keep kids excited and laughing. Various forms of bad behavior are demonstrated, and are punished in ways that perfectly fit the crimes. Charlie lives a life of poverty that's portrayed as bleak and depressing, although the love between him and his family makes their day-to-day struggles more bearable. The book was adapted for a film titled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971, and made into a movie titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp, in 2005. That same year, it was released as an audiobook read by Monty Python member Eric Idle, which is loads of fun.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Written byAnonymous December 19, 2014

Offbeat fun

Once I'd reassured my 4.5 year old that we would see all the children again at the end, it was full steam ahead. I've read it twice to her now and she... Continue reading
Parent Written byAnna B. May 28, 2014

A Fun Read

I remember my 2nd grade teacher reading this to the class, and i loved it so much. I couldn't wait to read it to my child. While I still enjoyed the story... Continue reading
Kid, 2 years old February 3, 2014


This is one of the best books i have read.If you have a child that loves candy and loves Rouald Dahl,then your kids willl love this!!!! The only thing is since... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 3, 2011
I love it and got me hungry!

What's the story?

In Roald Dahl's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, poor Charlie Bucket is practically starving. However, he is rich in love, living with his devoted parents and grandparents so old and sick they never get out of bed. Charlie is captivated by his Grandpa Joe's stories about Willy Wonka's mysterious chocolate factory and his efforts to keep his amazing recipes from leaking to other candy-makers. Charlie is excited when Wonka holds a contest, placing a golden ticket in five chocolate bars; each person who finds a ticket will get to bring a special guest along and visit the factory, and receive a lifetime supply of sweets! Charlie is too poor to buy more than one candy bar a year, so when he wins a ticket, his whole family celebrates. Charlie visits the chocolate factory along with four bratty children: greedy Augustus Gloop, chewing gum addict Violet Beauregarde, spoiled Veruca Salt, and television-obsessed Mike Teavee. What lies in store for the children depends on how they behave on their tour.

Is it any good?

Rarely, if ever, has a morality tale been dressed up in such an entertaining story. Roald Dahl clearly has a point to make here, but never does the reader feel he is preaching; he's just reveling in giving spoiled kids their most perfectly just comeuppance. Dahl has peopled these pages with some highly memorable bad children, and readers everywhere love to laugh with glee at their crazy behavior -- and its consequences.

In the best fairy tale tradition, Dahl doesn't hide the fact that the world can be a grim and unfair place. Charlie's depressing life of poverty at the beginning of the novel reflects this bleak view, but Dahl also appeals to the strong sense of natural justice in children, and invites them to revel in a marvelously imagined world where people, both good and bad, get exactly what they deserve. It's also a place where a genius candy-maker invents "eatable marshmallow pillows," "hot ice cream for cold days," "fizzy lifting drinks" that make you float, and "rainbow drops" that let you "spit in six different colours." And, in the end, it's just the place for Charlie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various children who win the right to tour the chocolate factory and how their flaws ultimately seal their fates.

  • What are your first impressions of Willy Wonka? Do you change your opinion about him over the course of the book?

  • Even though Charlie wasn't completely innocent, why was he chosen to run the factory in the end?

  • If you were given the opportunity to see your favorite candy maker's factory headquarters, how would you behave? Who would you take with you as your special guest?

  • Have you tried Wonka candies? Does reading this book make them more or less appealing to you?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love humor and classics

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

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

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate