Parents' Guide to

The Good Earth

By Kenneth Butler, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Gritty, moving tale of couple in turn-of-the century China.

The Good Earth Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 12+

As a pre-adolescent it was informative, not shovking.

I first read this book between aged 10-12. First in a Reader's Digest condensed version for kids, then the Adult version. Maybe it was my mother's frankness ala 60's about sex. But nothing in this novel tantalized or surprised me. I consider entirely appropriate for 12 year olds. Just as I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the same age, rape trial and all. Children are not stupid, and all of us are curious. Why read A Dickens novel based on a sadistic old woman vs. These other 2. Dickens' twisted sexuality is harder to take than the straightforward honesty of Pearl S. Buck's depiction of peasant life.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
age 15+

Exceptional, Harrowing and Euphemistic

A wonderful book, I still read it 20 years later. A spot on look into the Chinese collective unconscious, the best book I've ever read on the backdrop of modern Chinese culture. Changed how the world viewed China with its incredibly realistic portrayal, practically a first hand account. However, I think families should know that there are several euphemistic treatings of philandering and polygamy. The main character frequents a prostitute and later sleeps with a young girl. While opium is clearly looked down on it is mentioned quite frequently. The realism is exceptional but it has these costs. It's a great read, a page turner, Story at its best and a beautiful but harrowing (again, strict realism) look into the soul of China.

This title has:

Educational value
Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (4 ):

Young readers will be impressed by the gritty realism, the graphic depiction of a certain kind of society (that still exists today), and the redeeming lessons learned by the characters. THE GOOD EARTH won the Pulitzer Prize and is considered a classic. It has been in print since its first publication in 1931, and was made into a popular film in 1937. It is a fine example of the work of Pearl S. Buck, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate