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Peter Pan



This classic works best as a read-aloud.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Positive role models

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.


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

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. Some of the racial and gender stereotypes, typical for their time, will need explanation.

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."

Families can talk 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

Author:J. M. Barrie
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Friendship, Great girl role models, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:November 28, 2003
Number of pages:240
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

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Teen, 13 years old Written bytintin_in_arcata April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written byavidcritc April 9, 2008

timeless. i love it more every time i read it.

peter pan is among my most treasured comfort books (where most people have comfort food, i have comfort books because, well, I'm just funny that way). j.m. barrie has a sense of humor that at times is so dry it reminds me of lemony snicket but at the same time is just so innocently fun and happy. peter pan has some elusive element of fairy dust in it- it soars.
Parent Written byartexas2012 July 16, 2013

Warning: the book is DIFFERENT from the Disney movie

(Spoiler Alert) I read this out loud to our family on the way to Disney World. I had to do some verbal editing as I read because there are a variety of things that I did not want to read to my 8 year old. There are words used that did not seem appropriate for children. The other word for donkey is used more than a handful of times. It describes Tinkerbell wearing a negligee. It also has a LOT of violence, describing killing and other villainous acts. I know it is a classic, but I just want to warn other parents that this is not the same story that Disney tells us. I completely skipped the half-page near the end where it describes how Tinkerbell is dead... I think that would have devastated my daughter! Also, Peter Pan is really not very likable in the book - he is very self-centered and sort of an anti-role model.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing