Magic Tree House Series

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Magic Tree House Series Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fun, educational chapter books have something for everyone.

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Jack and Annie visit historical times and locations, meeting dinosaurs, eskimos, Native Americans, ancient Greeks, great composers, painters, scientists, and more. Depending on the volume in the series, children will learn about science, music, history, literature, art, music or nature, and there's at least one book in this series to appeal to any child's interests. The series also includes a limited selection of nonfiction companion books, called Fact Trackers, which allow kids to dig deeper into the topics that interest them.

Positive Messages

Jack and Annie's mission, as developing "master librarians," is to gather and preserve important books from all places and times. The series tells kids that books are essential historical documents, to be saved and treasured. There's also a strong message that knowledge is power, as everything the kids learn about the locations they visit helps Jack and Annie achieve their goals. The books also make a statement about cultural differences: The more knowledge and understanding we gain, the more we learn that all people are fundamentally the same.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In their various adventures, Jack and Annie are guided by master librarian Morgan le Fay, and later by Merlin the magician. Both of these mentors/teachers are very good and very wise. Jack and Annie are both lovely role models for young children: Annie is brave, enthusiastic and curious; her brother, Jack, is more timid but uses his intellect to solve problems.

Violence & Scariness

There's a suspenseful arc to each one of these early-reader chapter books. Jack and Annie are going to be in danger at some point in the novel, but the fear factor is perfectly calibrated for 6- and 7-year-olds, especially once they've read a couple of the books. Jack and Annie face challenges, but no one in the books is ever hurt.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Magic Tree House books, written by Mary Pope Osborne, all revolve around siblings Jack (age 8) and Annie (7), who discover that a tree house in the woods near their home can transport them to different places and historical periods. The children are sent all around the globe to achieve specific goals, usually to rescue an important historical document. The books are all highly entertaining and educational. Each volume follows a certain suspenseful arc, so the children end up in at least one precarious situation, but things always turn out well. Later books in the series have a little more sophisticated language and some have more fantastical plots, for slightly older readers, but they are no more scary than the early books.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6-year-old Written byZakry3323 April 12, 2020

The whitest bread

I agree with the other reviewer that these books are painful to read out loud- they use an overly simplistic structure, though the vocabulary is appropriate for... Continue reading
Adult Written byusuaggie83 May 29, 2019

Education and engaging!

My kids love these books! They are great to introduce kids to chapter books. The plots are engaging and exciting. Plus they teach a lot! My 11yr old who is read... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMqui May 6, 2020

Entertainment at its finest

This book series is unmatched. It has a wide variety of books about any and all topics, including a variety on witchcraft and the injustices facing native Ameri... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 11, 2018

Complete. Fricking. Waste. Of . Time

This series is terrible. Most of these “adventures” are just a terrible, money-making plot just to entertain, like 3 year olds. I couldn’t make it past the firs... Continue reading

What's the story?

Each of the books in the MAGIC TREE HOUSE series begins with the story of how one day in Frog Creek, PA, 8-year-old Jack and 7-year-old Annie discover a tree house in the woods near their home. The tree house was put there by master librarian Morgan le Fay. In the first 28 chapter books in the series, the children notice that a certain volume from Morgan's library has been left for them to explore. When they point to a location in the book and say, "I wish we could go there," they are magically transported to that location and historical time. Books 29 and on are "Merlin Missions," in which the kids are guided by Merlin the Magician; these books are somewhat more fantastical and more sophisticated to appeal to slightly older readers. As of December 2012, there are 48 books in this series, in which Jack and Annie explore history, cultures, music, art, science and natural phenomena.There's also a companion series of nonfiction Fact Trackers, written by the author's husband and sister, Will Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, which delve deeper into the subjects addressed in some of the novels.

Is it any good?

The Magic Tree House books make wonderful first chapter books for first- and second-graders (or advanced kindergartners) to read alone, or for parents of young school children to read aloud. The formula that all of the books follow may seem repetitive to parents, but kids find these books fascinating and comforting at once, because they know Jack and Annie are going to get home to Frog Creek. Pope Osborne is enormously successful at teaching and engaging children, and there's something in this series for every kid, whether they're into dolphins, pandas, painters, or pilgrims.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Morgan missions vs. the Merlin missions: How are they different? Which do you like better and why?

  • Do you think these books would make a good TV show?

  • Which books in the series do you like best? Are their places/subjects you learned about that you'd like to investigate further?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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Pages

For kids who love fantasy and adventure

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