Gossip Girl Books



Addictive high-society fluff with iffy messages.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

This may get some reluctant readers excited about the next installment. Inspired parents and teachers can use this book to talk about the popularity of clique lit -- and how readers are supposed to feel about the rich, mean characters here. See our "Families Can Talk About" section for a few ideas.

Positive messages

One character is bulimic, one is a stoner, and one got kicked out of school for not showing up for the start of term. Lots of back stabbing and bad behavior.

Positive role models

Each character has a role to play. There's the mean one, the earthy one etc., but none are really people you'd want your child to emulate.

Not applicable

A naked Blair opens the door to her boyfriend, anticipating their first time; Vanessa and Dan have sex, and Nate confesses he slept with Serena. Some girl-on-girl kissing, and Blair hooks up with an older man.


Swearing sprinkled throughout, but not abusive.


Lots: Barneys, Chanel, Tocca, Marc Jacobs, Estee Lauder, Ketel One, Veuve Clicquot, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of cigarette smoking and drinking. Nate smokes pot, and meets a pill popper in rehab.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that characters in these addicting guilty pleasures drink, smoke, do drugs, throw parties, and have sex. Their party lifestyle is glamorized (and their own parents are permissive about their drinking); sex is not graphic, but it isn't always equated with love, either. Also, brand names run throughout, from high-end clothing designers to skin products to alcohol brands. They are definitely fun books -- but for grounded teens who aren't going to be swayed by the bad behavior here.

What's the story?

Manhattan's young, rich, and beautiful throw parties, fall in love, and stress about getting into Ivy League colleges -- all while wearing designer clothes. Their comings and goings are recorded by a secret spy within their fold on GossipGirl.net. The 13 books in the series follow mean-girl Blair, earthy Serena, stoner Nate, edgy Dan and Vanessa, cute Jenny (and others in their circle). Beyond fancy vacations and charity events, they get glam in other ways: Serena models for a hot designer and Dan publishes a poem in The New Yorker. And then there are the inevitable romances: Nate and Blair. Dan and Serena. Nate and Jenny. Dan and Vanessa. You get the picture.

Is it any good?


This is really superficial stuff, but it's no wonder it's such a hit; these rich kids' designer lives are the stuff we've all fantasized about. It's just as easy to relish the high moments (Serena hooks up with a rock star; Dan and Vanessa finally get it on) as it is the disasters (Blair dates her Yale interviewer, only to find out he's the married father of one of her classmates; Nate gets busted trying to buy pot in Central Park). While none of the characters are particularly noble, it's fun watching them throw fabulous benefits (complete with Kate Spade gift bags!) or jet off to a tropical island for the holidays.


The author expertly weaves their various storylines together for maximum energy. But do your kids -- the ones you trust not to take this world too seriously -- really have to read the whole series? (Probably just one or two will do.) The GossipGirl.net interludes are the perfect device, because they remind sophisticated readers of their place in the whole mess: We are not these characters. We are not their friends. We are simply gawkers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the series and why teens seem to find it so appealing. What do books like these do for their readers? Are they simply guilty pleasures, or do they have lessons to teach? How are you supposed to feel about the rich characters -- envy them, hate them, feel sorry for them?

  • Also, how does it compare to the popular television show? If you were a parent, would you be more concerned about the books or the TV show? Both or neither?

Book details

Author:Cecily von Ziegesar
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:August 9, 2005
Number of pages:199
Publisher's recommended age(s):15 - 17
Read aloud:15
Read alone:15

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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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Parent of a 4, 11, and 13 year old Written byjburnett711 March 31, 2011
I personally love the books, however I read them while in college. I would absolutely not want my kids reading these books until they were out of high school! There is really nothing appropriate about them, however, the stories are great- juicy, dramatic, and addictive. Letting your child read these books would be the equivalent of letting them watch Sex and the City, but with high schoolers.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bySerenanotblair February 8, 2010
I loved the book, i think Serena is a great role model she always is nice to everyone. It has a lot of ;product placement; and makes people wish they could be rich and glamourous like Serena and Blair. Though that is the point of a book to read it and be entertained, not possitive messages.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written byQueenBee123 December 9, 2010

Loving it.

I love it. If you go in the mind of the caracter you will see that they are vunerable but they hide their feelings behind the partying,drinks and brands.Teens will love it but adults don t understand it. It a real fashion and a good moral role model and it s great..
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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