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Parent reviews for The Adventures of Captain Underpants: Captain Underpants, Book 1

Common Sense says

Gross potty humor, funny pranks will hook reluctant readers.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 39 reviews
Parent of a 7 and 9 year old Written byMediaMomPhd September 27, 2013

Teaches Bullying

All of the books in this series contain a lot of bullying, which is often presented as justified. There are also portrayals of bullying through the use of technology. In the 9th book in the series, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Re-Turn of Tippy Tinkletrousers, technology plays a central role in the antics of Harold and George. In the story, Harold and George seek revenge on the school bully, Kipper, by carrying out a variety of pranks on Kipper and his friends. For example, they send Kipper’s friends embarrassing texts that appear to have been sent from Kipper’s phone. George and Harold were engaging in cyberbullying, which is the use of electronic technology to repeatedly harm others, either physically, socially, or psychologically. Depending on the age of respondents and how it is defined, surveys indicate that 20-40% of youth have been the victims of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a serious problem among youth today. I would suggest that if you teach young children that it is funny to dehumanize others (be it bullies or women) and use technology to humiliate them, this is how we end up here as a society. Am I saying that reading Captain Underpants causes children to grow up to become cyberbullies? Of course not. But I do find it deeply disturbing that children, who should be learning about respectful and responsible use of technology, are getting a very different message from this book series. I do think there is a connection between the perpetuation of these messages (e.g., cyberbullying can be justifiable and is funny) and the ever-increasing tendency for youth perpetrators of bullying and violence to use technology to proudly disseminate their “conquests”. If you are going to let your child read these books, try to use them as "teachable moments" to discuss bullying of all types.
Parent of a 8 year old Written byLipstick6 May 9, 2011

Completely Unbeneficial.

If you want your kid to start making bathroom jokes at the table, buy this book. I really think it's closer to the iffy side than anything else. I had bought a couple of these for my son, but we read them together and I was so grossed out. When did it become acceptable for children to speak this way in society? When I was a child, we never learned to speak in such ways. We were taught it was socially unacceptable and rude, and as our mother always told us, nobody would ever invite us to their dinner table with mouths like that. There are so many better things for children to be reading than these.
Parent of a 6 year old Written byTrebuchet November 11, 2010

Lots of creative fun

The heroes of these books, George and Harold, are hardly good kids, endlessly pulling pranks and annoying people. But when there is a problem, they do whatever it takes to set things right, whether or not they are at fault. They are very creative, they don't take things personally, and they are quite forgiving and good-hearted. George and Harold do love potty humor, which I know annoys a lot of parents. My daughter thinks it's hilarious, and who am I to tell her what is funny? We talked about what is appropriate to say around people, and what might make others uncomfortable. And while potty humor isn't my thing, there is enough humor for adults that I don't mind when she reads them to me, which she insists on doing fairly often. I get the feeling Dav Pilkey genuinely likes and understands children, and the "About the Author" section makes it sound like the books came from his own childhood imagination. With so many moralistic, sanitized children's books for sale, I thought it was a relief to find some that were purely for fun. I know a lot of parents give these books to reluctant readers, but enthusiastic readers also like them. They also invite kids to make up their own superheroes and villains, and to try drawing and writing stories. The violence is cartoony, but it is in there, and parents trying to minimize exposure to violent stories might want to give them a miss.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Parent of a 11 year old Written bysusan b. September 17, 2016

Boy Humor: Our son advanced 2 grade levels in Reading in 2 months. Enough said.

I almost didn't allow our son to read this book. I'm a bit old fashioned. The title alone seemed inappropriate. My son read the introduction to me as he laughed repeatedly. Thankfully I agreed to let him read this book. His teacher informed me that our son had advanced 2 grade levels in Reading in 2 months at our first teacher's conference. I owe it to Captain Underpants. By the end of the school year his teacher informed us that my son had influenced most of the boys in his class to read this series too. Enough said! Boys loving to read is a very good thing. Our son is now in 6th grade. He's an avid reader! Wants to read while doing chores. Its all good. ( superman, spider man etc uniforms look like underpants, the writer states why not have a super hero just wear underpants for his uniform.)

This title contains:

Educational Value
Adult Written bya_adams April 9, 2008

A Great Book for Avid and Reluctant Readers Alike

This is a beginner's chapter book, more obviously geared for boys than girls. While the bathroom humor can get out of hand, Pilkey always gives the kids a good laugh. What I like most about the series, is that in the end of some of the books kids can write in for "fun stuff" from Scholastic if they've "spanked themselves eleven times and been sent to time-out" for reading the "incredibly graphic violence," or "Gotten in Big Trouble for Shouting Ka-Bloooosh." All in all, it's a cute and very interactive series. It's ideal for a child who has advanced reading skills at an early age, as well as reluctant older readers. There's plenty of good vocabulary words, but the text itself isn't too dense to scare off new readers. Pilkey did an excellent job with this series. One caveat, however, when the protagonists self-publish their comic books within the book, there are intentional misspellings. Use them as an opportunity to point out phonetic spellings versus actual English usage.
Parent of a 2 and 6 year old Written bysjjess September 24, 2012

So many better books out there.

Another parent said her son liked these books so I tried one out and I was appalled. The boys in this book have no redeeming qualities that I can make out. They are unkind to other children and adults alike. To call them "pranksters" is to laugh off a total lack of kindness, respect or empathy. Shouldn't kids be taught to consider the feelings of others? The ability to use funny potty language does not compensate for lacking a conscience.
Parent Written byhannahs2 November 7, 2015

Too much violence! What in the world is that?

Potty humor that's not appropriate for a kid! 18 and older. Do not read!!!!!!

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Parent of a 10 year old Written bycrazydenza10 August 16, 2010
my kid age 10 and 3quarters reads it i think its really good for kids with crude humor
Adult Written bygoodybyekitty October 22, 2015

A Great Kickstarter

This book is to help kids get interested into reading. It might not be educational or entertaining to parents, but its is to children. Its educational because they are learning how to read, and its entertaining because they are laughing while they are learning. If this mindset is instilled at a young age, then children will continue to think reading is fun as they grow up and pick up new titles.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written byH2Clark March 28, 2010
We laughed out loud together as we read this book.
Adult Written byK W April 5, 2017

And we wonder why this generation lacks respect

the main characters are terribly disrespectful to the adults. and the reader is made to laugh at this behavior. for new readers this book is filled with poor sentences. this book is popular just as candy is more popular than veggies. so sure give them tons of candy because that is easier.
Adult Written byjbcsmom November 28, 2009


It ain't bad one bit.
Adult Written byRecessGymClass2 December 2, 2016

This is funny!

I was around 19 when Captain Underpants first came out in 1997, i'm 38 now. I am an Elementary School teacher (although I'm here to write reviews on stuff like TV Shows, Books, and other things, I am a critic in my free time). A lot of the kids in my class are very big fans of Captain Underpants, and I can see why. It is so funny. Dav Pilkey is a genius. All of the jokes in this book make me laugh. I hope Dav Pilkey writes for many years, because he is so talented.
Parent of a 11 year old Written byjackson8888888888 February 19, 2011


Love it best book ever
Adult Written byAlphaZK93 January 21, 2011

If your kids emulate really easily, don't let them read this.

Honestly, I never had any issues with these books. I never had a negative effect with them and often found myself crying with laughter over how funny these all are. I would say that any kid over 8 should be fine as long as they don't start getting mouthy or anything. It really is pretty dang funny XD
Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written byJamie and James March 14, 2010

A smidge GROSS?

Well, James has always loved these books, but I find them awful. I wish he would move on to a different series already, but at least he can't stop reading!
Adult Written byJEDI micah September 14, 2012


This is a hilarious book! It has goofy illustrations, humorous characters, bad puns, a silly plot, and even a section of "flip-the-page" animation! I used to read this to my dad before he went to bed; he even found this book funny! Some parents may not like the poddy jokes, but come on! It's made to make you laugh! I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!
Adult Written byG A. March 24, 2014

Funny but poopy

It IS funny! But bathroom-related. More appropriate for kids in Grades 1,2 and 3 (or 5...only if your lucky...BUB!!!) - from L age 7

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written bySheri Tallman April 9, 2008
Parent Written byEma J. May 26, 2018

Slightly inappropriate but kids thought it was funny

Not shocked when my kids came in a did a game in the book which uses birthday dates for words, came in and said mum what's your birthday, so I said, and they said it says your a '' crusty fanny''!! I was disgusted, what's a crusty fanny mum? What the hell do I say to that! I said it's a scabby toe lol. Anyhow looked at the page they were looking at, there was words like oriented towards crude associations of the body and what it does. I will be getting rid.