The Graveyard Book

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Graveyard Book Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Tale of boy raised by ghosts is both creepy and warmhearted.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 35 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Bod tries to help other children against bullies.


A man murders a family with a knife, tries to murder a toddler, and threatens a teen girl; creatures are injured while protecting a boy.


A reference to couples kissing and "roll[ing] about."


Car brand.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink gin.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is mildly creepy with a bit of violence, suspense, and menace, including a man who murders a family and tries to murder a toddler and a teen boy and girl.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1 and 6-year-old Written byjandrewworld June 19, 2010

There is a reason why Neil Gaiman has won every award when it comes to literature.

This is the perfect book to read with your child before they go to bed. Each chapter is a self contained story, but each story sets up the end of the book. The... Continue reading
Adult Written byJournoMom December 14, 2020

Fun and creepy, plus the fierce love of an adoptive family

This is very much a ghost story, but also a story about a kid who is loved fiercely by his adoptive family, and who learns, sometimes the hard way, to listen to... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 28, 2012


After I read this book, I desperately longed for more. I have never read a book so compelling and suspenseful. It kept me up at night, and as soon as I finished... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDravenW August 6, 2017

Sweet, Beautiful, and Creepy. The Best Book I have Ever Read!

This is a wonderful book, but definitely has some creepy parts to it. I was forced to wait a few years before I could read it, no matter how much I wanted to. T... Continue reading

What's the story?

On the night Jack murders a family in their beds, their toddler runs out into the night, pursued by the murderer, and finds his way into a cemetery. The ghosts there chase away the murderer and, after much argument, decide to raise the boy. They name him Nobody, Bod for short. As long as Bod stays in the cemetery they can protect him from Jack, who is still searching for him. But a growing boy, even one who is granted the Freedom of the Graveyard, eventually needs contact with the living world -- and it is the world of the living that holds the most danger for Bod.

Is it any good?

It may seem odd to say it, but this is a lovely book. Suspenseful, yes, and a bit creepy, but lovely nonetheless. Author Neil Gaiman has learned a thing or two since his entry into children's books. His acclaimed first novel, Coraline was clever and technically proficient, but lacked heart, as did Stardust. This one has it in spades, and in the strangest places.

Gaiman begins with one of the great opening sentences ("There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife"), and quickly introduces a very relatable protagonist, a boy who grows from 18 months to 15 or so years, increasing his power and confidence but retaining the innocence of one who doesn't know the world. He gives him touching relationships with his ghostly parents and vampiric guardian, and though he has some scary adventures with ghouls and snake-like tomb guards, the graveyard world is never nearly as frightening as that of the living, especially to a boy who has been raised there. By adding a bit of heart and soul to his already brilliant writing, Gaiman has raised his game considerably.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Graveyard Book and The Jungle Book, which the author says influenced him. What are the similarities in plot and style? How are they different? Do you know of any other "wild child" stories?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror and ghost stories

Themes & Topics

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