The Catcher in the Rye

Book review by Liz Perle, Common Sense Media
The Catcher in the Rye Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 14+

One of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

Parents say

age 15+

Based on 35 reviews

Kids say

age 14+

Based on 120 reviews

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A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 18+

Not For Classroom Instruction

Dear Parents and Students, While Catcher in the Rye remains one of my favored American Classics, it is not for classroom instruction. First, Salinger never intended it for an adolescent reading audience. It has always been a book written for adults. In fact, the story's theme resonates the ideal of protecting childhood innocence through the main character's struggled and hurried existence of developmental life experiences. His intense suffering, due to the abandonment of developmental theory, sadly embodies an overwhelming majority of our American youth. If we want to best serve our children's social-emotional and cognitive growth, we need to be on point with their stages of development. The continuum of adolescent development is so wide and unique to each child. Thus, as pillars of educational excellence, we need to be mindful of the materials we choose for learning. Guidance required for sensitive issues as is threaded throughout this story (suicide, rebellion, prostitution, drugs, alcohol, pedophilia, homosexuality, and vulgar language content) is beyond teacher training. The social-emotional well being of students should always front load instructional practice. Literary learning targets can be met through alternate texts. Parents and educators alike should champion the simple message J.D. Salinger penned... Provide your children with developmental stages of experiences that fit their unique needs. This is how we will together move our youth forward with greater sensitivity and care.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
1 person found this helpful.
age 13+

I think it might be too intellectually challenging for some parents

I loved this book when I first read it at age 14 and continue to admire Salinger's writing to this day. It's fun to read the text again almost 30 years later and appreciate the differences in my interpretation. Some of the parent reviewers appear to simply not understand a complex narrative. It is not an easy "closed story" that explains everything for you. as other shave noted, there is a lot of cursing, discussion of sex, and alcohol consumption by minors. However, a strong 13+ reader should not have any trouble with the text, and a mature 13 + will understand that the "bad behavior" and cursing is not to mimicked. In sum, a great read that will not transform your child into anything bad, just a better reader.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
1 person found this helpful.

Book Details

  • Author: J. D. Salinger
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: December 31, 1969
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
  • Number of pages: 214
  • Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: August 2, 2021

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