Peter Pan

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Peter Pan Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
This classic works best as a read-aloud.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 14 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

A whimsical fantasy that has stood the test of time shows the magic of childhood flights of fancy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wendy is kind, patient, and helpful with Peter, her brothers, and the Lost Boys. Her parents are loving. Tinkerbell is loyal to Peter and saves his life. The book reflects the time in which it was written, when women were domestic, racism was casual, and people referred to Native Americans as "redskins."

Violence & Scariness

Nothing graphic, but lots, and a very casual attitude toward killing. The children are captured and about to be murdered by the pirates.

Language

Tinkerbell calls Peter a "silly ass." Native Americans are called "redskins," a reflection of the language of the era in which it was written.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the original language in Peter Pan is rich, and the story, so much a part of our culture, inspires children to dream. Parents should be prepared to discuss  the racial and gender stereotypes, which were typical in 1904, when the book was originally published. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhannahrw1991 February 7, 2020
Tinker Bell continues using the word "ass" when Peter "is being stupid," according to a parent review. Parents may think "orgy" is... Continue reading
Adult Written byLydia W. July 1, 2018

Kids will enjoy it, but won't understand the dark undertones.

The only non-child friendly element of this novel is Tinker Bell's constant use of A-word when Peter is being stupid. Parents may misinterpret the word... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byPenPal17 May 28, 2020

Light, Whimsical Classic, Deeper than you Might Think

Peter Pan by J.M Barrie is a true classic. It's a bright, lighthearted fairytale about the wonders of childhood and the importance of growing up. Although... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old January 30, 2020

What's the story?

One night Peter Pan flies through the window of the Darling nursery in search of his shadow. There he meets Wendy, Michael, and John, teaches them to fly, and leads them to the home of the Lost Boys in Neverland. "Of all delectable islands," the author says, "the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact, not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed." There, among pirates, Indians, and wild animals, the children have innumerable adventures. But Captain Hook, the evil leader of the pirates, is determined to wipe out the Lost Boys, and especially the cocky Pan. He concocts a plan to kidnap the boys and Wendy, poison Peter, and make the boys walk the plank while Wendy watches. But Tinkerbell the fairy saves Peter from the poison, setting the stage for a final confrontation aboard the pirate ship.

Is it any good?

Though some of the attitudes and language in PETER PAN are now dated, this unabridged edition shows clearly why Barrie was considered one of the great geniuses of English literature. By turns dryly witty, poignantly tragic, exciting, and lyrical, the writing is as brilliant as the story, a perfect distillation of childhood fantasies and adult nostalgia. For today's children, listening to the story is a challenge -- it definitely works best as a read-aloud, even for older kids -- but one well worth undertaking.

This tale is every child's birthright, and the watered-down retellings don't do it justice. They miss the complexity and darkness, as essential as the joy and adventure, captured in Barrie's exquisite prose as Peter watches through the window when the children are reunited with their parents: "He had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know; but he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must forever be barred."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fantasy and reality.

  • Do you think Peter Pan is living an ideal life?

  • Do you think he'd be happier with a real family?

  • Why, after fleeing their families, do the boys want a mother to tell them stories?

  • Do you look forward to growing older, or are you reluctant like Peter Pan?

Book details

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