Parents' Guide to

Ender's Game

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Sci-fi classic has racist language, violence, adult themes.

Ender's Game Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 30 parent reviews

age 9+

A spectacular book that cemented my love of reading

I understand why many parents are saying this book is for older teens, given the themes and violence involved. But one of my fondest memories as a child was reading this book cover to cover the day after I got it for Christmas when I was 9. I had no idea a book could be that good, or that I was even capable of reading an adult length novel. It entirely changed how I approached reading, and I owe so much of my late elementary and junior high reading experiences to it that I hate to see parents or kids shy away from it only because of the theming. There is extreme violence and bad language, but the violence is necessary to explain the morally complex story presented, and the main character grapples with his discomfort with what is going on. I think in the same way that Judy Blume demonstrated that younger readers than we might expect can deal with challenging topics like death and sexuality, Card demonstrates that the same can be true of violence and political strategy. I would not shy away from offering this book to a reasonably mature child with a love of stories about sci fi and fantasy battles; he or she may well be better off directly grappling with the moral complexity of war than reading yet another fantasy story about a battle of good guys versus evil monsters, where the bright lines between good and evil allow the author to unquestioningly glorify battle.
2 people found this helpful.
age 12+

Great book to read for any age.

At 68 years old I guess you could say I am very much an adult., or a big kid. I enjoy reading different genres of books. But, I would have to say sci-fi has been my favorite reading since my late teens. I just finished reading Ender's Games(s), (my plurality of the word). I am really not what you would call a book reviewer, but when I finished this story all I could think was wow. It occurred to me that there really are 2 endings and the 2nd isn't even finished. When I realized what the initial 'ending' of the story was my jawed dropped. Not at all what I suspected. So for anyone who wants a real 'Holy Mackerel' moment, read this book. And don't dare cheat and peek at the ending.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (30 ):
Kids say (107 ):

This popular sci-fi novel has a lot going for it: It's deeply emotional and character-driven, intellectual enough to make readers think without diverting from the story, and packed full of action. Ender's Game is a page-turner that will hold the attention of even reluctant readers and introduces complex themes that resonate today. However, the racist language and gender stereotypes in particular let the book down, and it needs to be both read and discussed with these in mind, particularly given Orson Scott Card's very public expression of his own prejudices.

The book's view of politics in the internet age is prescient, and its exploration of ruthless education practices and the sacrifice of individuals for the greater good will linger long after the last page is turned. Though it wasn't written for children -- the violence is certainly too intense for younger readers -- it has been embraced by preteens and older across the world and remains an influential addition to the sci-fi canon.

Book Details

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.

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