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The Dangerous Book for Boys

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Dangerous Book for Boys Book Poster Image
Brilliant marketing masks some weak content.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Some would consider the whole premise of the book to be sexist. Boys are encouraged to gamble for money, and to run away if they accidentally break a window.


A chapter on how to kill and skin a rabbit, another on how to make a bow and arrow. In the stories, there are fights and wars, beatings, amputation, deaths by a variety of methods, including being impaled on a red-hot poker which, the author states, was a statement on the victim's homosexuality.


A reference to homosexuality, a statement that boys spend a lot of time dreaming about girls.


Candy and sports brands mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to alcohol and hashish.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is much here that you may find objectionable, beginning with the premise of the book. Boys are encouraged to hunt and gamble, and some of the stories are very violent, though not graphically so. Most of the activities require lots of adult supervision.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1, 9, 12, 15, and 16 year old Written byKirstin G. April 7, 2018

Skeptical So Far

We are liking what the show "almost is" so far but are about to turn it off for the super weird and borderline garbagy character roles of the grandmot... Continue reading

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What's the story?

This compendium of things the authors believe will appeal to boys includes activities, such as building a tree house and go-cart; stories of famous battles and heroes; information on such things as grammar, first aid, and astronomy; advice; games; codes; and more.

Is it any good?

Tearing boys away from the screen to get out and do things and learn things in the real world is a laudable goal, but this has been done, and oh so much better, before. Go back a hundred years or more to books such as The American Boy's Handy Book and The Official Handbook for Boys by the Boy Scouts of America (both still available). THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS shows all the signs of being slapped together quickly -- lots of typos and mistakes; inaccurate information; half-baked opinions presented as fact; plodding, muddy prose; and impenetrable, inadequate instructions from authors who clearly are not experts.

So how to explain its jaw-dropping success? Brilliant marketing, with a great title and a cool, retro cover. It's more appealing to dads than kids -- dads who are nostalgic for the childhood they never actually had, and want to believe they can provide for their own kids. Bad news: They can't -- at least not by using this book.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about which of the activities they would like to do, and what parental supervision is necessary. Also, why were the particular activities, stories, and poems chosen? What are the authors saying about boyhood? Are they right?

Book details

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